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Amnesty urges EU to halt Egypt arms sales to stop killings, torture

25 May 2016 6:37



Leading human rights group Amnesty International has criticized a dozen European countries for complicity in Egypt’s crackdown on dissent through their arms exports to the African country.

In a statement on Wednesday, the rights group said twelve members of the European Union (EU) – including France, Germany, Italy and the UK – “have remained among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment.”

Amnesty said these countries have flouted an EU-wide suspension of arms transfers to Egypt imposed after hundreds of protesters were killed in what it called a “show of grossly excessive force” in August 2013.

Since then “the human rights situation has actually deteriorated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, the interim deputy Middle East and North Africa Program director at Amnesty.

“Internal repression by the security forces remains rife, and there has been virtually no accountability. Excessive use of force, mass arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances having become a part of the security forces’ modus operandi,” she said.

“EU states transferring arms and policing equipment to Egyptian forces carrying out enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary arrests on a mass scale are acting recklessly and are risking complicity in these serious violations,” she added.

Egyptian riot police fire tear gas towards protestors as they demonstrate on April 25, 2016 in the capital, Cairo, against the handing over of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. © AFP

Amnesty said “In 2014 alone, EU states authorized 290 licenses for military equipment to Egypt, totaling more than €6 billion (US$6.77).”

The London-based human rights watchdog urged the EU “to immediately impose an embargo on all transfers of the types of arms and equipment being used by Egypt to commit serious human rights violations.”

“The EU and its members must stop rewarding bad behavior by Egypt’s police and military with a bonanza of arms supplies,” said Brian Wood, the head of arms control and human rights at Amnesty.

The Egyptian government has been cracking down on opposition since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup led by ex-military chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.

Sisi has been accused of leading the suppression of Morsi’s supporters; hundreds of them have been killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces over the past couple of years.

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