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Member States 'Flouting' EU Rules With Egypt Arms Transfers

© AFP 2023 / Satin HamedA fighter prepares an ammunition belt.
A fighter prepares an ammunition belt. - Sputnik International
Almost half of EU member states have "flouted" EU-wide suspensions on arms transfers to Egypt, and in the process have contributed to the government's crackdown on dissent, according to a new report.

Human rights campaigners Amnesty International have accused guilty EU states of contributing to Egypt's "internal repression" through the continued transfer of arms to the North African country.

According to AI's report, 12 EU member states — Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK — have broken a 2013 pledge to prevent arms from being transferred to Egypt.

​The pledge was adopted after Egypt's security forces opened fire on supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi on August 14, 2013.

On that day, an estimated 800-1,000 people were killed as protestors demonstrated against the military coup of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, which had taken place a month earlier.

"Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated," said Magdalena Mughrabi, AI's interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director.

​"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.

"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."

Concerns Over Security Crackdown

According to AI findings, EU member states authorized 290 licenses for military equipment in 2014 alone, totaling more than US$6.77 billion (€6bn).

Meanwhile, according to other reports from campaigners Privacy International, companies from a number of EU member states, such as German, Italy and the UK have supplied Egyptian authorities with technology and equipment that could be potentially for state surveillance.

There have been widespread concerns about alleged crackdowns on political opposition in Egypt in recent years, with reports of heavy-handed measures taken by security services and even instances of unlawful killing.

"Supplying arms that are likely to fuel such internal repression in Egypt is contrary to the Arms Trade Treaty, to which all EU states are party, and flouts the EU's Common Position on arms exports," Brian Wood, AI's head of arms control and human rights, said.

"The EU should 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."

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