Greek officials 'worked to stall EU criticism' of Egypt's appalling human rights record

Greek officials 'worked to stall EU criticism' of Egypt's appalling human rights record
Greek diplomats urged European lawmakers to either delete or mitigate criticism of Egypt's abysmal human rights record in 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council.
2 min read
09 March, 2022
Under Sisi, thousands of Egyptians have been jailed for their political opinions [Getty]

A leaked memo claims that Egyptian foreign ministry officials worked together with Greek diplomats to mitigate criticism of Cairo's horrific human rights abuses, according to reports.

The memo describes concerted efforts by Greek officials to pressure their European Union counterparts to drop any reference to Egypt in a 2017 statement to the UN Human Rights Council or block any objections to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s abysmal human rights record,  Middle East Eye reported.

The memo was reportedly written by foreign ministry officials under incumbent Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Egypt is holding thousands of political detainees without charge, with evidence of widespread torture.

"Greek diplomats reported that they issued instructions to request the complete deletion of the reference to Egypt, yet they realise that this is almost impossible in light of the resistance they encounter from important and influential countries within the EU," read the memo read.

If unsuccessful, the diplomats would "aim to amend and mitigate the statement as much as possible", and try to delete any references to "extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances" from the statement. 

The revelation comes just a month after 175 European politicians from 13 states published an open letter in February 2022 detailing Egypt's human rights abuses and urged the UN to establish a structure to monitor human rights in Egypt.

Egypt's abysmal human rights record since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in a 2013 coup is well documented.

Tens of thousands of political prisoners and government critics have reportedly been tortured, disappeared, exiled or languish in Egypt’s jails.

Reporters Without Borders have called the country "one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists" and ranked Egypt 166 out of 180 in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.