open Letter to the members of the European Parliament / EU-Egypt Association agreement

16/11/2001
Press release

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

On 28 November, the Parliament will ratify the EU/Egypt Association agreement. On that occasion, it will have a debate on Egypt, followed by the adoption of a resolution, which will notably address the human rights situation in that country.

This is particularly relevant since the Agreement is based on the respect of human rights and democratic principles (art 2).
The FIDH takes this opportunity to raise some human rights issues in Egypt which are particularly worrisome. We believe that it would be very important for the European Parliament to address those issues during the oral debate on November 28, and to include them into its resolution.
1. the state of emergency is still in force in Egypt, and it is conducive to human rights violations. The basic charges against both Hafez Abu Saada and Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim have been based on the Emergency Law (especially Military Decree n° 4 of 1992). The recent referral of Muslim Brotherhood members to a military court is another example. The FIDH believes that the question of the necessity to abrogate the Emergency law should be a fixed point on the agenda of the dialogue between the EU and Egypt, including in the meetings between members of the European Parliament and members of the People’s Assembly of Egypt.
2. the draft law on associations is not in conformity with international law (International covenant on civil and political rights and the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, in particular its art. 9 and 13). The FIDH calls on the EU to obtain clear guarantees from the Egyptian authorities that it will be able to support the work of independent human rights organizations in Egypt without risk that human rights defenders be prosecuted and put in jail on that basis. The EU has a special responsibility in that regard, as demonstrated by the condemnation to harsh prison terms of Saad Ed Din Ibrahim and his co-defendants (see below).
3. The FIDH believes that the EU should seriously address the Queen Boat case with its Egyptian partner in order to obtain guarantees that the 23 persons recently condemned after an unfair trial will be liberated immediately and unconditionally. This is also valid for the case of Mahmud, a 16 year old boy whose appeal will be examined on November 21.
4. The FIDH also considers that the EU has a duty to raise the issue of enforced disappearances in Egypt, which have occurred in the 90s and have not yet been elucidated nor seriously investigated. The families of the persons disappeared continue to suffer and they have the right to know the truth about the fate of their relative. They also have a right to reparation.

We hope that those extremely important issues will be raised during your discussions on November 28 and will be reflected in the resolution. The FIDH is convinced that the ratification process of the EU/Egypt association agreement is a unique opportunity for the EU to induce progress in the field of fundamental freedoms in Egypt.

Sincerely yours.

Isabelle Brachet
FIDH Permanent Delegate to the EU

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