Rights groups urge Merkel to press Egypt over violations

AFP , Monday 1 Jun 2015

German Chancellor and leader of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel (Photo:Reuters)

Five prominent rights groups on Monday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to press for an end to human rights abuses in Egypt when she meets President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi this week.

El-Sisi begins Tuesday a visit to Germany at Merkel's invitation.

He will meet the chancellor on Wednesday and other officials, but German parliament speaker Norbert Lammert has called off a meeting he was due to have with Sisi citing human rights abuse.

The five human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, highlighted violations in Egypt in a joint statement addressed to Merkel.

"The government headed by President El-Sisi presides over the gravest human rights crisis in Egypt in decades," the statement said.

They urged Merkel "to make clear in your meetings with President El-Sisi ... that the nature and extent of Germany's relations with Egypt going forward will depend on the Egyptian authorities taking prompt and concrete measures to put an end to government policies that systematically violate Egypt's obligations under international human rights law as well as the Egyptian Constitution of 2014," the statement said.

It called on Germany to "continue to freeze the transfer of all arms and security related items that could be used for repression until Egyptian authorities have carried out judicial and impartial investigations into the killings of hundreds of protesters by police and security forces, and bring those responsible to justice."

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following nationwide protests against his rule, Egyptian authorities have led a crackdown on his supporters, many of whom have been imprisoned. The sweeping crackdown has likewise seen several top secular activists jailed.

Also, dozens have been sentenced to death in mass and speedy trials, including Morsi himself.

Meanwhile, Egypt was hit by a wave of bomb attacks over the past year and a half, with Islamist militancy particularly intensified in the restive peninsula of Sinai.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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