State Dept. Releases More Military Aid to Egypt Despite Rights Abuses
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today expressed alarm over press reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will release an additional $195 million in military aid to Egypt despite no progress on human rights.
In July, Sec. Pompeo lifted holds on $195 million in Fiscal Year 2016 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Egypt that had been suspended last year by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, on human rights grounds. The decision to release this money to Egypt’s repressive government, despite no progress on human rights, will encourage that government to jail and torture political opposition and human rights activists.
“Sending more military aid is just doubling down on July’s terrible decision,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who recently traveled to Egypt to research a new report on the government’s assault on civil society. “This is a clear signal that the Trump Administration is more than okay with President Sisi’s targeting of human rights defenders. Green lights don’t come much bigger than this.”
Since President Sisi seized power in a popular coup five years ago, his government has targeted peaceful critics, religious minorities, human rights defenders, and nongovernmental organizations. Sisi recently ratified a draconian law restricting the work of NGOs, essentially making it a crime to advocate for human rights and development. The country’s police and security service officials routinely torture detainees held on politically-motivated grounds with techniques including electric shocks, beatings, and rape.
“Congress needs to take action,” said Dooley. “Lawmakers should pass an appropriations bill with strict human rights conditions that can’t be waived, and that make at least $300 million in military aid contingent on real progress on human rights.”