Monday

17th Jun 2019

EU states 'complicit' in Egypt repression

  • More than 800 Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in 2013 (Photo: Globovision)

Twelve EU states are supplying arms to Egypt despite a pledge not to contribute to “internal repression”, Amnesty International says.

In a report out on Wednesday (25 May), citing the EU’s own figures, Amnesty says Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK are guilty of the practice.

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It singled out shipments from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France and Italy for censure because they mostly supplied the kind of small arms and armoured vehicles that are used by Egyptian security services against Egyptian people.

Bulgaria issued licences worth €52 million in 2014, including for 10,500 assault rifles. The Czechs issued permits for €20 million of materiel, including 80,953 pistols and revolvers. French exports of vehicles and munitions were worth €100 million.

Italy issued grants for €34 million of small arms in 2014 and has registered €73 million of exports in the same category for this year.

Amnesty said Germany, Italy and the UK also supplied snooping technology to the authoritarian regime.

The transfers come despite EU states agreeing in September 2013 “to suspend export licences to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression.”

The informal ban was not legally binding and did not include a detailed list of forbidden items.

It came after the forces of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, later elected as president, killed more than 800 people from the Muslim Brotherhood group, most of whom had been taking part in peaceful protests.

The French figures cited by Amnesty do not include the transfer of over €2 billion worth of Mistral-class warships to Egypt designed to help stop Islamic State fighters from moving around the Mediterranean.

Amnesty said in a statement that the EU states flouting the ban were “risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture”.

"Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated," the group’s Magdalena Mughrabi said.

The group noted that almost 12,000 people were arrested on suspicion of “terrorism” in the first 10 months of 2015 alone.

In January 2015, at least 27 people again died in protest-related violence.

Amnesty’s Brian Wood said: “The EU and its members must stop rewarding bad behaviour by Egypt's police and military with a bonanza of arms supplies”.

Opinion

Why is Egypt jailing my friends?

A new wave of arrests against youth activists who, five years ago, helped bring down Mubarak is a sign of Sisi's paranoia, and could prompt fresh unrest.

Opinion

Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights

The EU’s apparent willingness to water down its stance on human rights in Egypt could seriously compromise its credibility and have far-reaching consequences for its relations with other countries in the region.

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