U.S. Reportedly Withholding Aid to Egypt over Human Rights Abuses
New York City—Human Rights First today welcomed news, originally reported by Reuters, that the United States will deny Egypt $95.7 million of foreign assistance in response to Egypt’s failure to advance democracy and human rights. Government sources have also told Reuters that a further $195 million could be withheld in the absence of progress on human rights by the Egyptian government.
“If the Trump Administration follows through with denying some military aid to Egypt on human rights grounds, it would send a powerful message that the United States will not stand idly by while abuses occur,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “The repressive policies pursued by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have further destabilized Egypt, which is experiencing unprecedented levels of political violence, including hundreds of terrorist attacks. The Sisi government must change course away from repression towards policies that respect the basic rights and freedoms of all Egyptians, and that curb gross violations by security agencies, which only fuel the cycle of violence.”
Secretary of State Tillerson has expressed concern over the Egyptian government’s restrictions on the free functioning of independent civil society. The U.S. government should continue to withhold the full amount of military aid conditioned by the congress until the Egyptian government introduces extensive human rights reform, including ending its attacks on civil society and human rights organizations, by dropping charges in Case 173 (the “foreign funding” case) and halting the implementation of its new anti-NGO law until it is revised to comply with Egypt’s international human rights obligations. The Egyptian government should also work towards the elimination of discrimination against religious minorities.
Human Rights First called on Secretary Tillerson to withhold military assistance to Egypt in a report issued earlier this month. The organization also urges Congress to attach stringent human rights conditions to the FY 2018 Egypt assistance package.