The European Parliament held a plenary session in Strasbourg Thursday where MEPs discussed reported cases of human rights violations and the adaptation of “urgency” resolutions against Egypt.
A 588-member majority voted in favour of the proposed resolution while 10 MEPs against the measure. The European Parliament’s actions follow a motion for a resolution issued on Tuesday on Egypt, addressing the condition of human rights in the country with particular focus on the case of Italian national and PhD student Giulio Regeni.
Besides demanding for truth in Regeni’s case, the resolution recommended an EU-wide embargo on the export of any form of security equipment and military aid to Egypt, deploring the continued security cooperation and arms dealing between Egypt and EU member states, notably France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The resolution condemned the practices of these countries as they run counter to the EU’s 2008 Common Position on arms exports.
During the session, MEPs called for Egyptian authorities to carry out an impartial and effective investigation, as well as identify and prosecute those responsible of what it described as outrageous abduction and the savage torture and killing of Italian researcher Regeni and expresses its profound solidarity with the relatives of the victim”.
MEPs said the decision to allow Italian authorities to participate in the ongoing investigations with Egyptian authorities was “a good step but not enough,” calling on Egypt to take the matter “seriously”.
“We owe it to so many young people who still believe in freedom and the right to life that no one can take away from them,” stated MEP Isabella De Monte.
The EU’s statement reported that according to information provided by Egyptian investigators and forensic authorities and Italian officials on the details of Regeni’s murder, the 28-year-old Cambridge University doctoral student, disappeared on 25 January 2016 after having left his home in Cairo. His body was found on 2nd February beside a road in the outskirts of Cairo. There is suspicion that the Egyptian intelligence or security forces were involved in the Regeni’s death.
The European Parliament called on the Egyptian authorities to “carry out a swift, independent, impartial investigation into Regeni’s case; and to identify and prosecute those responsible for this odious crime; and to fully investigate and cooperate with the Italian government on this case”.
“The Egyptian Foreign Minister said claims of such involvement were merely judgments, accusations and insinuations, unjustified and without proof; whereas the case of Giulio Regeni follows a long list of enforced disappearances that have occurred in Egypt since the military coup of July 2013,” the statement continued.
EU concerned over human rights’ situation
MEPs discussed practices used by Egyptian authorities such as the arbitrary detention of government critics.
The parliament’s reported that more than 22,000 people have been detained since then, including journalists, human rights defenders, as well as members of the Muslim Brotherhood. As so, it renewed calls “for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons detained and sentenced solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including Mahinour el Masry, Aya Hegazy, Mahmoud Hussein, Ahmad Abd el Rahman, Ahmed Said, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Ahmed Maher, and Mohamed Adel.
The European Parliament further mentioned 19-year-old Irish national Ibrahim Halawa, who faces a potential death sentence in a mass trial of 494 defendants for his participation in protests in central Cairo in August 2013. However, his trial has been postponed 12 times to date.
The parliament further highlighted the cases of media professionals and bloggers arrested or convicted for carrying out legitimate activities, including Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, Mahmoud Abu Zeid ‘Shawkan’, Samhi Mustafa, Ahmed Fouad, Abdel Rahman Shaheen, Youssef Shaaban, Hisham Gaafar, Esraa Al Taweel and Ismail al-Iskandrani, as well as novelist Ahmed Nagy. Nagy was recently sentenced to two years in prison for charges of publishing ‘indecent sexual content.’
In discussing the prevalence of torture in detention centres in Egypt, the European Parliament called on Egypt to prosecute all security officers involved in criminal practices related to torture and enforced disappearances, and to allow Egyptian and international rights organizations full access to all places of detention and to all prisoners held therein. The parliament stated that it is deeply worried by hunger strikes taking place in Egyptian prisons, such as the Al-Aqrab prison.