Three members of the European Parliament called on Egyptian authorities to confront human trafficking in Sinai in light of a report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“The Egyptian authorities first denied the problem and then stated that there was not enough evidence,” said Annemie Neyts, a Belgian MEP in the parliament. “This HRW report gives the necessary evidence that human trafficking and torture in Sinai are a fact and that it is time to stop it,” she added, also saying that current Egyptian security presence in the volatile peninsula made it “the right time to close [torture camps] down”.
In the press release from the European Parliament, MEP Olle Schmidt from Sweden said that the resolution of “the horrible and inhuman situation of so many Eritrean refugees” would come with “a focus and will of Egypt to act.”
Schmidt also called on EU High Representative Catherine Ashton to put the issue of human trafficking on the agenda in the European Union’s dialogue with Egypt.
Marietje Shaake from the Netherlands said that she would “do whatever we can to put this report on the agenda of the plenary session of the European Parliament next week,” adding that “the EU cannot remain silent and must push the Egyptian authorities to end these inhuman crimes”.
HRW on Tuesday published a 79-page report titled “I wanted to lie down and die”, detailing numerous accounts of torture of Eritrean refugees for ransom in Sinai at the hand of Egyptian traffickers. The report also implicated the Egyptian authorities in facilitating the abuses. The report also contains information concerning traffickers in eastern Sudan.
“Egyptian officials have, for years, denied the horrific abuse of refugees going on under their noses in Sinai,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at HRW. “Both Egypt and Sudan need to put an end to torture and extortion of Eritreans on their territory, and to prosecute traffickers and any security officials colluding with them.”
Last week the European Parliament issued an extensive resolution regarding the current situation in Egypt. In the document it called for “intensified efforts by the Egyptian interim government and security forces to restore security, in particular by fighting human traffickers.”
Article 89 of the newly adopted Egyptian constitution, the first one to address the issue of human trafficking, states: “Slavery and all forms of oppression and forced exploitation against humans are forbidden, as is sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking, all of which are punishable by law.”