18 rights organisations criticise Egypt’s candidacy for the Global Counterterrorism Forum

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Eighteen human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have expressed deep concern about the European Union’s intention to run for the presidency of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in partnership with Egypt, in light of the latter’s appalling record of human rights violations. In a joint statement, the organisations called on the European Union to seriously reconsider the partnership offer, urging it to retract and withdraw it, and to oppose any attempt by Egypt to lead the forum, as well as to increase efforts to denounce the country’s human rights violations.

UN experts warned last year that the Egyptian authorities’ continued misuse of counterterrorism practices was inconsistent with their obligations under international law. According to experts, Egypt has pursued a systematic campaign cracking down on the rule of law and human rights by targeting peaceful human rights defenders using continuous campaigns of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and listing them on terrorist lists. The experts pointed out that the provisions of Egyptian terrorism laws go beyond the scope necessary to combat terrorism, severely limiting the exercise of freedoms, and including strict penalties and overly broad definitions. They also stressed that there are no judicial or parliamentary authorities in Egypt willing and able to hold the executive authority and security services accountable.

Egypt has sought to weaken human rights protections at the multilateral level including at the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, the experts added. Egypt has also attempted to distort and dilute the mandate of UN experts.

The organisations said that the European Union is well aware of the seriousness of the human rights crisis in Egypt, and this is confirmed by the repeated inclusion of Egypt in the statements of the union regarding the regional human rights situation. In addition, 32 countries, including many European countries, signed a joint statement in March 2021, condemning the human rights situation in Egypt. The organisations made it clear that continuing the partnership offer would contradict the stated goals of the European Union, and would also contribute directly to achieving the Egyptian government’s continuous endeavor to whitewash its abhorrent human rights record.