Senator Leahy Blocks U.S. Aid to Egypt Out of Concern for Human Rights

Washington D.C. – Human Rights First applauds Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) for his leadership in placing a hold on the resumption of military assistance to Egypt in response to the state violence and oppression in that country. Senator Leahy expressed concern yesterday with the Obama Administration’s planned release of $650 million in military aid to Egypt in light of recent human rights abuses in the country including the sentencing by an Egyptian court of more than 680 political dissidents to death. Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Leahy referred to this recent case as “an appalling abuse of the justice system. It shows a dictatorship run amok.”

“Senator Leahy’s comments were refreshing and he is right to express concern,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “The United States needs a strong, stable strategic partner in Egypt; the repressive policies currently being pursued by the government in Cairo are only producing unrest and violence.”

Senator Leahy’s clear expression of concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt stands in contrast to the mixed messages given out by the administration. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Obama Administration will resume some military aid to Egypt, including the delivery of ten Apache helicopters to the Egyptian military, while also stating that the United States “is not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition.”

Political violence in Egypt has risen alarmingly in recent months, including state violence against protesters and other citizens and violence directed against the security forces and others by militant extremist groups. During the week since the administration announced it will resume some military aid to Egypt, more than 680 Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced to death without a fair trial, at least two pro-Morsi protesters were killed, and a Cairo court has banned the April 6 youth movement that helped engineer the 2011 uprising.

Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to link the assistance it provides to Egypt, and especially its military assistance, to clear human rights conditions. Human Rights First urges the United States to stand up consistently for universal values and human rights, the rule of law, and for the development of inclusive, civilian government that can serve the interests of all Egyptians.


Published on May 1, 2014


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