Egyptian parliament slams HRW report urging Germany to scrap security agreement with Egypt

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 26 Apr 2017

The Egyptian parliament's Human Rights Committee attacked on Wednesday the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) over a report issued this week by HRW urging the German parliament (Bundestag) not to approve an Egyptian-German security agreement on fighting terrorism.

In a meeting led by committee chairman Alaa Abed on Wednesday morning, the committee described the report as evidence that "this radical Western organisation" is biased and serves the interests of radical Islamist movements.

"HRW's report where it criticised Egyptian-German cooperation in the area of fighting terrorism comes at a very crucial time," Abed said.

"While Egypt is fighting a Sinai-based terrorist group that kills Egyptian soldiers, bombs Egyptian churches and openly claims responsibility for such atrocities, the report gives cover to this group to continue mounting its bloody crimes and violent terrorist attacks against the Egyptian people," said Abed.

Abed said that the Egyptian-German "agreement helps security apparatuses in both Germany and Egypt exchange information on terrorist organisations with the objective of foiling terrorist attacks in both countries."

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar signed the agreement with his German counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, in July 2016, though it is still awaiting approval by the German parliament, with a vote scheduled on 28 April.

The agreement would establish cooperation in a number of fields, mainly counterterrorism, and requires the authorities of both countries to work together in investigations, share information about suspects, and undertake joint operations.

The HRW said in its report that Egypt's interior ministry does not respect human rights and has "a decades-long history of arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, and torture."

“The German government should be getting cast-iron guarantees that Egypt is calling a halt to its abuses, not rushing to put its agents next to Egyptian forces on the front line of repression,” the report said.

Abed said that he wonders why HRW's "politicised report" comes after a number of “anti-Egypt television channels” broadcast a “fake video” purportedly showing "Egyptian law enforcement troops in Sinai violating human rights."

Abed said that "it is clear that countries that spend money on terrorist groups are trying their best to disrupt any plans to stop their support of these groups."

"These countries know that the Egyptian-German agreement could uncover their support of terrorists, so they moved quickly to step up their campaign against Egypt by exploiting HRW and using it as a tool in this campaign," said Abed.

Abed said that a response to HRW's report will be presented to parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal to be presented to German authorities.  

"It is important that German authorities know our response to HRW's report," said Abed, indicating that "the German government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel was the one that sought the security agreement with Egypt."

"The German government took note of Egypt's massive efforts in fighting terrorist groups, so it saw that it is in its interest to sign a security agreement with Egypt," said Abed.

The Human Rights Committee's deputy chairman Mohamed El-Ghoul said it is not the first time HRW has issued reports giving “political cover” to terrorist groups.

"Over the past three years, HRW and all other radical human rights organisations in the West have turned a blind eye to all terrorist crimes against Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, while referring to these terrorist groups as insurgents," said El-Ghoul.

"The problem with these radical Western organisations is that they no longer act as human rights forums, but rather as political pressure groups that do not want governments – particularly in the Middle East – to exercise any protection of their national security."

"What was the result of this agenda? It was chaos everywhere in the Arab world; in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Sinai," said El-Ghoul.

El-Ghoul argued that "the video broadcast by some Muslim Brotherhood channels, which operate from Turkey and receive money from Qatar, was clearly fake."

“Although most citizens and families in Egypt whose sons and daughters were slaughtered by terrorist groups in Sinai see that army and police soldiers should show no mercy to these groups, they quickly realised that the videotape was fake," said El-Ghoul.

El-Ghoul said that as a member of the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council, Egypt has drafted a resolution on "the negative effect of terrorism on human rights."

"The resolution in very simple terms states that the issue of respecting human rights should not be separated from the right of countries to safeguard their citizens against terrorist crimes," said El-Ghoul.

El-Goul said "the resolution, which was drafted by Egypt and other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco, faced resistance from England, which has become Europe's capital of radical Islam.”

"We want to tell these governments that people in the Middle East and around the world have the right to live, and that their governments have the right to ensure this, which is more supreme than Western radical views of human rights espoused by organisations like Human Rights Watch, which leads to chaos everywhere," said El-Ghoul.

El-Goul said Egypt's resolution, which was approved by a majority of 28 countries, was a big success for all governments that seek to have all the powers necessary to fight terrorism.

Some MPs have proposed that an Egyptian parliamentary delegation visit Germany to respond to HRW's report, but the committee's head said it is enough to send a response to the report to German authorities.

"The German parliament has the right to approve or reject the security agreement with Egypt, but rejection will be only harmful to Germany and German citizens," said Abed. 

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