Monday, March 18, 2024

Ahead of the European Union’s (EU) leaders meeting with the Egyptian president in Cairo (17 March 2024), Amnesty International called for all leaders to ensure that respect for human rights is at the centre of all ties between the EU and Egypt.

“As EU leaders seek to strengthen their ties with Egypt, they must not risk being complicit in the country’s ongoing serious human rights violations. Journalists and human rights defenders continue to face arrests, censorship, travel bans, asset freezes and other harassment measures amid an unrelenting crackdown on all forms of dissent,” said Amnesty International’s Head of the European Institutions Office, Eve Geddie. 

“Thousands languish unjustly behind bars in horrific conditions solely for exercising their human rights or following grossly unfair trials. Hundreds of death sentences continue to be handed down annually, while enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment remain pervasive and are committed with impunity.”

“In order for cooperation to positively address the human rights crisis in Egypt, EU leaders must ensure that the Egyptian authorities adopt clear benchmarks for human rights, especially lifting media censorship and other restrictions on freedom of expression, reversing the crackdown on civil society and releasing all those arbitrarily detained for peacefully exercising their rights.”

As part of the Strategic Partnership, the EU and Egypt are expected to negotiate EU investment in border management, including providing Egyptian authorities with equipment and support for border control and preventing departures.

“Egyptian authorities routinely arrest and arbitrarily detain refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in cruel and inhumane conditions, and unlawfully deport them, without due process or the opportunity to claim asylum, to countries where they risk facing serious human rights violations.” said Eve Geddie.

“EU leaders cannot ignore these abuses and must ensure that any cooperation agreement or measure includes clear safeguards concerning human rights. The EU should abandon the tried-and-failed model of trapping people in countries where their rights are at risk, and avoid further complicity in human rights violations, as evidenced in cooperation with Libya or Tunisia.”

The meeting also comes at a time where the EU, including members of the delegation, are divided in their response towards war crimescrimes against humanity and the risk of genocide against Palestinians, with more than 31,000 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip. While Belgium has increased support to UNRWA and has been advocating for a ceasefire, the European Commission, Italy and Austria risk contributing to the starvation of Gaza’s population through their failure to fully reinstate funding for UNRWA, cease all export of arms and ammunitions to Israel or call for an immediate ceasefire.

“The Belgian Prime Minister and the Egyptian President must insist that their counterparts publicly support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, resume full funding to UNRWA and conduct a review of Israel’s respect of its human rights obligations,” said Eve Geddie.


On 17 March, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will visit Egypt, along with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to advance negotiations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the EU-Egypt Strategic Partnership. This partnership reportedly includes €7.4 billion offered by the EU in grants and loans up to the end of 2027.

Tags: EU, Human Rights, Freedom of expression.