EU leaders risk legitimising Egypt repression in upcoming meetings with Sisi, Amnesty warns
The leaders meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Al-Fattah Al-Sisi at the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) summit this week run the risk if they do not "denounce his government’s crackdown on human rights", according to the UK-based rights watchdog.
Sisi was set to join EU and AU figureheads, alongside leaders of their member states, for the sixth summit between the two continents in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, as concerns over Cairo's human rights violations linger with rights groups estimating that around 60,000 political prisoners were still being held in Egypt.
“Egyptian authorities are cracking down on any form of dissent... the reality is that gross human rights violations continue unabated in Egypt," Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty International’s EU office said in a statement.
"People currently behind bars for peacefully exercising their human rights in the country expect EU leaders to speak out for them and press for change. Failing to do so would send a harmful message that the EU values deepening ties with the authorities over... human rights,” Geddie added.
In recent months, 28 human rights defenders and peaceful opposition politicians were referred to trials by emergency courts "over bogus false news or terrorism charges" - an accusation frequently levelled against activists or members of the opposition in Egypt, Amnesty said.
One Egyptian activist, Walid Shawky, also recently began a hunger strike to protest against his detention of more than three years, one leading local rights organisation revealed on Sunday.
“By continuing to pursue business-as-usual relations with Egypt, the EU risks undermining its own credibility,” Geddie said.
Thursday's summit aimed to "lay the foundations for a renewed and deeper AU-EU partnership with the highest political involvement".
Topics to be debated at the summit include health systems, vaccine production, security, climate change and growth financing.