Europe has questions to answer on Egyptian Repression

25/02/2016

Europe has questions to answer over Egyptian repression

The Egyptian regime's surveillance equipment is integral to quelling dissent - and European states sold it to them.

 | Human RightsPoliticsMiddle EastEgypt

 

Riot police officers stand guard in front of the Cairo Security Directorate [REUTERS] [Reuters]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ravi Naik

Ravi Naik is head of Public Law at ITN Solicitors, a law firm based in London.

 

And so it goes; another week, another report revealing Egyptian state repression. These reports, however, seem to have lost their power to surprise; Egyptian oppression seems desperately entrenched. However, Privacy International's report, The President's Men, should be of wider concern.

The report reveals the export of surveillance equipment possessing the most insidious qualities and enabling state observation of the most intimate kind. Alarmingly, this equipment comes from Europe and is sold to an arm of an Egyptian regime that, according to the report, is so clandestine that it is not officially in existence.

Leaks quoted in the report suggest that the European companies highlighted, Trovicor and Hacking Team, see exports of their products as business as usual. However, such business must be seen in the context of the realities of repression in Egypt.

Egregious violations 

A variety of credible non-governmental organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have reported on the many shocking violations of domestic and international law in Egypt.

Many commentators have equated those acts to crimes against humanity, amounting to a deliberate government policy to maintain the 2013 coup by crushing dissent in all opposition groups.

Most prominently, in August 2013, the military regime orchestrated a widespread, systematic and violent clampdown on those who had engaged in a non-violent protest against the removal of President Mohammed Morsi.

In the aftermath of those acts, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said: "In Rabaa Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history … This wasn't merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt and have a lot to answer for."

The Egyptian government's attempts to repress democratic opposition have in fact accelerated since then. For example, death sentences have been imposed en masse and repressive laws have been reported as being implemented to imbed the regime.

Such reforms come in the context of open oppression of journalistic freedoms, with the Egyptian regime targeting and detaining journalists for doing no more than reporting from within the country.

Threat to regional stability

Egypt is seen to be rapidly descending towards a humanitarian crisis; deepening and endemic poverty with increasing conflict and hostility have put Egypt on a precipice. The security situation presents a grave threat to regional stability.

The increased use of violence and repression is causing a schism between the state and its citizens...

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