Sale of surveillance equipment to Egypt by French company Amesys: impunity must end

Press release
ar en fa fr

Paris – Since 2011, the French authorities have been investigating the role of Amesys in supplying a sophisticated electronic surveillance system to the Libyan regime. This system enabled the regime to identify political opponents and human rights defenders, arrest and then torture them. Today’s report from Telerama reveals the sale of a similar system to the Egyptian government in March 2014, and puts the spotlight on the impunity that the company continues to enjoy.

FIDH and LDH call on the French government to put an immediate end to the export of surveillance equipment to Egypt, where the regime is guilty of repression and violence against human rights defenders and all peaceful opposition voices. FIDH and LDH also urge the appropriate judicial authorities to expand the current investigation into the supply of surveillance equipment to Libya to include Amesys’ similar dealings with the Egyptian regime.

In 2011, the Wall Street Journal revealed how Amesys had installed an extensive electronic surveillance system that had enabled the Gadhafi regime to identify and target Libyan activists and political opponents. In January 2013, five Libyan victims – whose online communications were flagged by the Amesys system and used as the basis for their arrest and torture – were assisted by FIDH and LDH in filing a civil suit in France and delivering their testimony before the French courts. As yet, nobody has been charged with complicity to torture by the French specialised unit for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes, responsible for investigating the case.

The revelations in today’s Télérama report that a similar surveillance system was supplied to the Egyptian government – with the “blessing” of the French authorities, who remained silent on the company’s application to license the technology to General Abdel Fatah Al-Sissi’s regime – constitute yet another resounding scandal. The Egyptian regime is responsible for human rights violations of an unprecedented scale and severity; since Sissi came to power in July 2013 through a coup d’état, grave acts of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and summary executions have all been reported. Hundreds of people have been sentenced to death, and tens of thousands have been arrested on the pretext of counter-terrorism. Journalists and NGOs are the primary targets, especially in light of the repressive “anti-freedom” law that was adopted in March 2017.

"Putting technology for tracking and spying on its critics in the hands of the Sissi regime, while repression is in full swing, is not only self-interested and cynical but also, most likely, criminal. That is why we are asking the French authorities to expand the current investigation into Amesys supplying to Libya to include the similar deal with the repressive Egyptian regime."

Patrick Baudouin, FIDH’s lawyer and honorary president

Supplying this material to yet another repressive regime, while the company is under judicial investigation in France, is far from unsurprising.

"This new scandal reflects the impunity that Amesys executives enjoy, they are clearly untroubled by the judicial investigation directed at the company’s dealings with the Libyan regime. Although the legal proceedings will take time, we call on the French political authorities to take all the necessary steps to immediately end the supply by French companies to the Egyptian government. This is a clear violation of corporate responsibility to respect human rights."

Maryse Artiguelong, vice president of LDH and FIDH
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