EU states sell arms to Egypt despite embargo: Amnesty

Twelve countries have flouted EU-wide suspension on weapons transfers to Egypt, rights group says.

Egypt riot police
In 2014 alone, EU states authorised 290 licences for military equipment to Egypt, totalling more than $6.77bn [Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters]

Almost half of the European Union member states have flouted an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture, according to Amnesty International.

Despite the suspension imposed after more than 600 anti-coup protesters were killed by security forces in Cairo in August 2013, 12 EU members, including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK remain among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment, the human rights group said in a statement on Wednesday.

In 2014 alone, EU states authorised 290 licences for military equipment to Egypt, totalling more than $6.77bn, the group said. 

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The items that have been sold to Egypt by the EU states through exports and brokering have included: small arms, light weapons and ammunition; armoured vehicles; military helicopters; heavier weapons for use in counterterrorism and military operations, and surveillance technology. 

“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, interim deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director at Amnesty International.

In 2015 alone, rights groups recorded more than 1,250 forced disappearances and 267 alleged extrajudicial killings, in addition to 40,000 political prisoners .

“We would like to see an embargo on all items that are used by the internal security forces in these sorts of serious violations,” Brian Wood, head of arms control and human rights at Amnesty International, told Al Jazeera.

“We want perpetrators to be brought to justice because you cannot have a secure country without respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Wood said. “The Egyptian government is on a completely wrong course.”

He added that EU foreign ministers are due to review their position on Egypt in the coming weeks, and that Amnesty International hopes they will then strengthen the arms embargo.

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Source: Al Jazeera