Eu Parliament resolution denounces grave human rights in Egypt

European Parliament urges EU member states not to give awards to leaders involved in rights abuse, hinting at Egypt’s Sisi

The European Parliament on Friday adopted a resolution calling for restrictive measures against Egypt in view of its grave human rights violations.

The parliament called on the EU high representative and member states to respond to Egypt’s human rights violations in a “unified and resolute manner” as well as consider targeted restrictive measures against high-level Egyptian officials.

“The human rights situation in Egypt has continued to deteriorate as authorities intensify their crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders, health workers, journalists, opposition members, academics, and lawyers,” the parliament said in the document.

It also called on the EU member states not to “give awards to leaders responsible for human rights violations”.

In a controversial three-day visit to Paris last week, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power in 2013 through a coup, was awarded the prestigious Legion of Honor by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Expressing “strong political and human support” to the family of slain Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, the European Parliament also urged Egyptian authorities to “fully cooperate with Italian judicial authorities”.

Regeni, 28, was an Italian researcher and doctorate student in Egypt, who went missing on Jan. 25, 2016. Nine days later, the researcher’s naked body was found in a ditch on a highway in Cairo.

Rome prosecutor’s office earlier this month requested trial for four Egyptian officers, including a general.

The parliament also called for more transparency on all forms of financial support or training by the EU institutions, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank to Egypt (EIB).

The European Parliament repeated the previous calls for the release of three senior staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and Egyptian human rights defenders who were incarcerated after meeting diplomats.

It also expressed “deep concern” for the detainees and prisoners held in “overcrowded places of detention, in abysmal conditions”, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following are the 18 articles included in the EP resolution on Egypt’s human rights violations:

1- Deplores once again and in the strongest possible terms the continuing and intensifying crackdown on fundamental rights and on human rights defenders, lawyers, protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, students, children, women’s rights and gender equality activists, …, political opponents, including their family members, civil society organisations and minorities, solely in response to their exercise of their fundamental freedoms or their expression of dissent, by state authorities and security forces in Egypt; calls for an independent and transparent investigation into all human rights violations and for those responsible to be held to account; underlines the importance of a strong and well-functioning civil society;

2. Is outraged at the recent arrests of senior EIPR activists Gasser Abdel Razek, Karim Ennarah and Mohammad Basheer in retaliation for their legitimate meeting with European diplomats in Cairo; welcomes their provisional release, but urges the authorities to drop all charges against them, end all forms of harassment and intimidation against them and EIPR founder and acting director Hossam Bahgat, and revoke any restrictive measures, including travel bans and asset freezes, adopted against them and the EIPR; calls on the Egyptian Government to ensure that their case will be dealt with in a transparent, fair and swift manner;

3. Regrets that the decision to release them was not extended to other EIPR detainees, in particular Patrick George Zaki, whose detention order was extended for another 45 days on 6 December 2020; calls for Patrick George Zaki’s immediate and unconditional release and for all charges against him to be dropped; considers that a strong, swift and coordinated EU diplomatic reaction to his arrest and prolonged detention is needed;

4- Reiterates its calls for the immediate and unconditional release of those arbitrarily detained and sentenced for carrying out their legitimate and peaceful human rights work, in particular Mohamed Ibrahim, Mohamed Ramadan, Abdelrahman Tarek, Ezzat Ghoneim, Haytham Mohamadeen, Alaa Abdel Fattah, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, Mahienour El-Massry, Mohamed El-Baqer, Hoda Abdelmoniem, Ahmed Amasha, Islam El-Kalhy, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Ramy Kamel, Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, Zyad el-Elaimy, Hassan Barbary, Ramy Shaath, Sanaa Seif, Solafa Magdy, Hossam al-Sayyad, Mahmoud Hussein and Kamal El-Balshy;

5- Stresses that the ongoing arrests and detentions are part of a broader pattern of intimidating organisations defending human rights as well as the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression, both online and offline, of association and of peaceful assembly in Egypt, and calls for an end to all these acts; deplores Egypt’s continued use of counter-terrorism legislation, the arbitrary addition of defenders on Egypt’s terrorist lists and pre-trial custody to target and criminalise the work of human rights defenders, which is inconsistent with the rule of law and Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law; urges the Egyptian authorities to amend or repeal any abusive legislation, in particular its 2019 non-governmental organisation (NGO) law and its counterterrorism law; calls once again on the Egyptian authorities to close Case 173/2011 (the ‘Foreign Funding Case’), and lift all travel bans and assets freezing imposed on at least 31 human rights defenders and staff members of human rights NGOs under the case;

6- Calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that the treatment of any detainee adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by the UN General Assembly in its Resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, that pending their release, they are allowed full access to their families, lawyers of their choice and adequate medical care, and that credible investigations are conducted into any allegations of ill-treatment or torture;

7- Expresses its deep concern for the fate of detainees and prisoners held in overcrowded places of detention, in abysmal conditions, during the COVID-19 pandemic and calls on the authorities to urgently decongest places of detention; calls on authorities to provide unrestricted access to the Tora maximum security prison for an independent organisation in order to monitor the conditions of detention; denounces the arbitrary arrests, harassment and repression of medical workers and journalists for speaking out about the COVID-19 situation or the Egyptian state response in 2020; calls on the Egyptian authorities to cease this practice and release any medical personnel still in arbitrary detention;

8- Deplores the rise in executions in Egypt and rejects the use of the death penalty; calls on the Egyptian authorities to declare a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolishing it and to take all steps to ensure strict adherence to due process guarantees and all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial; calls on Egypt to immediately release all juveniles who have received death sentences and amend Article 122 of its Child Law;

9- Calls on the Egyptian authorities to adopt a comprehensive law on violence against women and a national strategy to enforce the approved laws against sexual violence; urges the authorities to use available UN guidance, such as the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women, to set out components on combating violence against women, including protection of survivors and witnesses through trained officers and providers; calls on the Egyptian authorities to cease any type of  persecution against women on the grounds of ‘violation of morals’, as against the female human rights defender Amal Fathy; calls on the authorities to immediately put an end to the arrest and prosecution of members of the LGBTI community or individuals solely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation, such as in the case of Seif Bedour;

10- Deplores the attempt by the Egyptian authorities to mislead and hinder progress in investigating the kidnapping, torture and murder in 2016 of Giulio Regeni, an Italian researcher; regrets the Egyptian authorities’ persistent refusal to provide the Italian authorities with all the documents and information needed to enable a swift, transparent and impartial investigation into the murder of Mr Regeni in accordance with Egypt’s international obligations; calls for the EU and the Member States to urge the Egyptian authorities to fully cooperate with Italian judicial authorities, putting an end to their refusal to send the residence addresses, as required by Italian law, of the four suspects indicated by the Italian prosecutors in Rome, upon closing the investigation, in order to allow for their formal indictment to face charges in a fair trial in Italy; warns the Egyptian authorities against retaliating against the witnesses or the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and its lawyers;

11- Expresses strong political and human support to the family of Giulio Regeni for their constant and dignified search for the truth; recalls that the search for the truth about the kidnapping, torture and murder of a European citizen does not belong to the family alone, but that it is an imperative duty for national and EU institutions that requires all necessary diplomatic actions to be taken;

12- Notes that Egypt is an important partner of the European Union and its Member States in a wide range of areas, including trade, security, the fight against international terrorism and people-to-people contacts; supports the Egyptian people in their aspirations to establish a free, stable, prosperous, inclusive, and democratic country that respects its national and international legislation when it comes to the protection and advancement of human rights;

13. Reminds the Egyptian authorities that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms constitutes an essential element of EU-Egypt relations and that providing space to civil society is a joint commitment enshrined in the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities, as stipulated in the Egyptian Constitution; stresses that no human rights defender should face financial restrictions, criminalisation, travel bans or bail conditions, or be imprisoned for their legitimate human rights work; urges the VP/HR to publicly express concerns over the human rights situation in Egypt and at any high-level meeting with Egyptian authorities;

14- Encourages representatives from the EU Delegation and from the Member States in Cairo to attend the trials of Egyptian and foreign journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, human rights defenders and civil society activists in the country and visit them in detention;

15. Reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the Member States to respond in a unified and resolute manner, also in coordination with other likeminded partners, to the crackdown and human rights violations in Egypt, and to use all tools at their disposal to secure concrete progress in Egypt’s human rights record; urges, in particular, the EU and its Member States to take the lead at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council to set up a long overdue monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave human rights violations in Egypt; welcomes the adoption by the Council of a global human rights sanctions regime/EU Magnitsky Act and reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the Member States to consider targeted restrictive measures against high-level Egyptian officials responsible for the most serious violations in the country;

16. Reiterates its call for a profound and comprehensive review of the EU’s relations with Egypt; considers that the human rights situation in Egypt requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations and requires the restriction of EU aid to primarily supporting democratic actors and civil society; calls for more transparency on all forms of financial support or training provided by the EU, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank to Egypt; recalls that the EU and its Member States must not give awards to leaders responsible for human rights violations;

17. Calls for the EU, with a view to negotiating new partnership priorities, to establish clear benchmarks that make further cooperation a centrepiece of our relations in order to achieve progress in the reform of democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights, and to mainstream human rights concerns in all talks with Egyptian authorities; urges the Commission and the EEAS to put the need for tangible improvements to the human rights situation, in particular the release of arbitrarily detained human rights defenders and journalists, at the centre of the next EU-Egypt Association Council meeting; reiterates that cooperation in the areas of migration management or counterterrorism, but also geopolitical considerations, should not come at the expense of continued pressure for human rights compliance and accountability for human rights abuses;

18. Reiterates its recent calls on the Member States to follow up on the 21 August 2013 Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions announcing the suspension of export licences for any equipment which might be used for internal repression in line with Common Position 2008/944/CFSP2 , and condemns the persistent non-compliance of Member States with these commitments; calls on the Member States to halt all exports of arms, surveillance technology and other security equipment to Egypt that can facilitate attacks on human rights defenders and civil society activists, including on social media, as well as any other kind of internal repression; calls for the EU to implement in full its export controls vis-à-vis Egypt with regard to goods that could be used for repression, torture or capital punishment;

19- Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Egyptian Government and Parliament, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.