Protests in Brussels: No Red Carpet for Human Rights Violations

The deterioration in the human rights situation has drawn condemnation from world leaders, most notably in March 2021 UN Human Rights Council session, where 32 states expressed deep concern about the application of terrorism legislation against human rights activists, journalists, politicians and lawyers. Yet earlier this year, the EU and Egypt submitted a joint bid to chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Since coming to power in 2013, Sisi has presided over brutal repression that may have reached the level of crimes against humanity, with countless arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and widespread torture. Independent civil society has been effectively outlawed through violent threats and intimidation.

Nevertheless, the human rights crisis in Egypt under Sisi’s repressive rule has been under the spotlight in recent months, and the Egyptian authorities have been seeking to whitewash their international image.

GRW, several NGOs, and human rights activists documented a range of human rights abuse by the Egyptian regime (including repression of civil society, rampant arbitrary detention, and increased application of the death penalty, etc.), followed by a joint letter calling the EU to review its relations with Egypt.

Despite overwhelming evidence of serious abuses, European leaders hail Egypt as an important partner at many levels, and EU member states shamelessly sell weapons to Egypt.  Furthermore, the recent news that the EU and Egypt submitted a joint bid to co-chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum together, is yet another outrageous sign that the EU and member states consider Egypt as a privileged partner, despite its systematic human rights violations in the name of national security and counterterrorism.

In light of Egypt’s alarming record of severe human rights violations, rights groups renew their calls on EU leaders to review its relations with Egypt, where 6 NGOs called on EU and Belgian leaders not to roll out the red carpet for the Egyptian President Abdelfattah Al Sisi. Moreover, on Wednesday last week, human rights advocates demonstrated in Brussels against the Egyptian President, who arrived in the Belgian capital for a summit between the European Union and the African Union.

GRW emphasises that the EU relations with states must be founded on the respect of all human rights, and it urges the EU not to be tolerant of its human rights violations. In addition, leaders meeting with Sisi should make clear that Egypt must fulfill its human rights obligations, particularly by ending arbitrary detention, unlawful travel bans, and targeting human rights defenders.

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