Egypt

Since Egypt's President al-Sisi took power in 2014, Egypt has seen some of the worst human rights abuses in its modern history. The UK continues to supply Egypt with a range of military equipment and the government has designated it a key market for further sales.

Last updated: 06/08/2020

Introduction

Since Egypt’s President al-Sisi took power in 2014, the country has seen some of the worst human rights abuses in its modern history.

At least 1,300 people were killed during protests in July-August 2013. Since then hundreds of people have disappeared, either killed or imprisoned by the police or army, and tens of thousands of people have been put in prison.

Journalists, human rights defenders, protesters, government critics, opposition parties, and LGBT+ people have all been targeted by the government. Women consistently face sexual violence and discrimination, with no protections in the law.

More than 4000 people were detained after protests in September 2019.

While coronavirus makes the appalling conditions in Egypt’s prisons  of even more urgent concern, the authorities have used the pandemic to justify further arrests and repression, including automatic renewal of pretrial detention.

Security officers routinely commit serious human rights violations, including torture, disappearances and extra-judicial executions, in near-absolute impunity.

Human Rights Watch

Systematic torture is a state policy

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Egypt is a part of a group of countries giving military support to Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, with warships, aircraft and troops.

UK arms trade with Egypt

The UK supplies Egypt with a range of military equipment. After massacres that killed huge numbers of people during a military takeover of government in 2013, EU countries agreed to suspend and review licences for “any equipment which might be used for internal repression”. The UK government paused 48 of its agreements to supply Egypt with arms.

However, UK government information shows the UK has sold Egypt all kinds of arms which could have been used in the suppression of its citizens, including machine guns and parts for military combat vehicles and military helicopters.

The UK government has an arms sales department, Defence & Security Exports, which has identified Egypt as a “key market” to sell arms to, in spite of its terrible record on human rights. UK Prime Ministers and Trade ministers have made and hosted many meetings with the Egyptian government since 2013.

UK tear gas

Some of the tear gas canisters used against protesters in 2011 had been manufactured by UK company PW Defence (known as Chemring Defence in 2011)

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Egypt & UK arms fairs

The UK government has often invited Egypt to send staff to visit the DSEI arms fair to shop for new equipment. They accepted and attended in both 2017 and in 2019. In 2015 they weren’t officially invited by the UK government, but arms fair organisers hosted a private VIP group from Egypt, likely including the head of the Egyptian Army.

Lawyers for the Egyptian opposition ‘Freedom and Justice party’ contacted Scotland Yard alleging that the Head of the Army was implicated in the use of torture in Egypt and calling for his arrest, but the Foreign Office had given him temporary diplomatic immunity from investigation during his visit.

Several international arms manufacturers that have exhibited at DSEI have sold arms to Egypt, including tear gas used on protesters in 2011, combat aircraft, guns and tanks.

Delegations have also been invited to attend Security & Policing and Farnborough International.

 

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Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights works to protect and improve Egyptian people's basic rights through research, working with governments at home and abroad, and supporting legal cases.

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Key statistics

£24 million

published value of UK arms exports licensed to Egypt in last 3 years

Data

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