Human Rights First Praises Senators’ Letter Calling for Human Rights to be a Central Part of the U.S – Egypt Strategic Dialogue
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today applauds a prominent bipartisan group of U.S. Senators for pressing Secretary of State John Kerry to promote political reform, human rights, and fundamental freedoms during the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue scheduled to take place in Cairo on August 2nd. The call came in a letter to Secretary Kerry urging him to take action to support democratic reform, which is necessary for long term stability and economic growth in Egypt.
“We are concerned that the repressive policies of the Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi are fueling instability in Egypt and undermining regional and international efforts to counter the threat of violent extremism,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “Secretary Kerry and the U.S. delegation should take steps to ensure that President Sisi is not able to manipulate this high level bilateral meeting to give the public impression that Egypt’s failing policies have the support of the U.S. government.”
The letter was authored and signed by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
“The United States and Egypt have shared a strategic partnership for more than four decades … we are troubled by recent developments in Egypt that suggest the country is not on a path to long-term sustainable security or political inclusion. We are also concerned that recent U.S. policy and assistance decisions have been interpreted by the Egyptian government as endorsement of the current political climate,” wrote the senators.
Last week the Working Group on Egypt, including Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks, issued a letter to Secretary Kerry highlighting ongoing repression and violence in the country and warning of “serious concerns that the government of Egypt will try to use the Strategic Dialogue as a sign of U.S. endorsement of its current repressive policies.”
The Working Group urged Secretary Kerry to press the Egyptian government to take the following steps immediately in order to break the destructive wave of violence:
- Bring counterterrorism legislation into line with Egypt’s constitutional requirements and its international human rights commitments;
- Revise its strategy toward the Sinai-based insurgency to adopt more effective security methods, along with political and economic strategies that will enlist the cooperation of the local population instead of disenfranchising it;
- Cease politically-motivated trials, annul related death sentences and other punishments handed down in questionable trials, and release all prisoners currently held with insufficient regard to due process of law;
- Bring to an end its assault on independent civil society organizations, including human rights groups, and on local and foreign journalists; and
- Initiate processes of national reconciliation to end social and political polarization.
Human Rights First continues to urge the Obama Administration to use its relationship with Egypt to press for an end to human rights violations and for necessary political reforms.