EU parliament urges ban on security, surveillance exports to Egypt over dire human rights record

EU parliament urges ban on security, surveillance exports to Egypt over dire human rights record
Human rights groups estimate that as many as 60,000 political prisoners languish in Egyptian jails, significantly more than under Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship.
2 min read
13 December, 2018
Sisi has overseen the largest crackdown on dissent in Egypt in living memory. [Getty]

The European parliament on Thursday reiterated its call for member states to stop the export of security and surveillance equipment to Egypt after passing a resolution condemning Cairo's widespread crackdown on human rights.

Earlier this year, the EU's law-making body voted to curb the export of surveillance equipment to states with dire human rights records, including Egypt, after evidence that European-supplied technology was being used to suppress human rights activists and political opponents.

In a resolution passed following a vote on Thursday, the European Parliament said Cairo enforces continuous restrictions on fundamental democratic rights.

It implored Egypt's government to also "drop all existing baseless criminal investigations into the work of non-governmental organizations."

The resolution urged the release of several detained human rights advocates by name, saying that "the long-term prosperity of Egypt and its people goes hand in hand with the protection of universal human rights."

The EU parliament also urged Egypt to lift restrictions on free speech and assembly, halt mass trials and release political prisoners.

The European Union has occasionally condemned Egypt under general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's rule, although this rarely impacts trade or weapons sales.

Since taking office, Sisi has overseen the largest crackdown on dissent in Egypt in living memory, jailing thousands of Islamists along with secular, pro-democracy activists and rolling back freedoms won in a 2011 popular uprising.

In October, Amnesty International said arms supplied by France were used with deadly effect by the Egyptian security forces to violently and repeatedly disperse protests and crush dissent.

On 14 August 2013 French-supplied Sherpa armoured vehicles were used in Cairo by Egyptian security forces to disperse sit-ins across the city.

In what is now known as the Rabaa massacre, the Egyptian security forces killed up to 1,000 people, the largest number of protesters killed in a single day in modern Egyptian history.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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