Macron refuses to bring up human rights with Sisi

France's Macron refuses to bring up human rights with Sisi, despite NGO detentions
2 min read
07 December, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to discuss human rights issues with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite increasing and egregious violations by the latter’s government.
Macron said he didn't 'give lessons' to other world leaders [Getty]
French President Emmanuel Macron has refused to bring up the issue of human rights violations by Cairo during a visit to Paris by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, despite protests by dozens of rights groups.

At a joint press conference with Sisi, Macron told reporters: "I don't take lessons in how to lead from any other leader, just as I don't give lessons myself."

Macron also said that he would not tie future French arms sales to Egypt to human rights reforms, justifying this by saying it would weaken the Sisi regime's ability to fight "terrorism".

"I will not condition matters of defence and economic cooperation on these disagreements [over human rights]," Reuters quoted the French leader as saying.

An estimated 60,000 political prisoners are held in Egyptian jails, where torture and ill-treatment of detainees is routine, according to human rights groups.

Egyptian authorities executed 49 prisoners over a ten day period last October, causing outrage worldwide.

In addition, three human rights activists from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) were arrested last month after meeting foreign diplomats. They were released shortly before Sisi's visit to France.

"It is more effective to have a policy of demanding dialogue than a boycott which would only reduce the effectiveness of one our partners in the fight against terrorism," Macron said.

Egypt is a top buyer of French arms and shares hostility of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has brought the French and Egyptian governments closer together in recent months.

Read more: I escaped Sisi's jails, but thousands of others haven't been as lucky

The military equipment supplied by France to Cairo includes jet fighters and battleships.

Antoine Madelin from the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights told France 24 TV that French-made weapons had been used against protesters in Egypt.

"Our reports have shown how this equipment has been used by the Egyptian authorities to repress demonstrations," he claimed.

A number of human rights groups in Paris protested Macron's hosting of Sisi. Among the banners they held up was one that read: "Save Egyptian Journalists."

In May, Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, noted that "dozens of journalists have been arbitrarily detained on spurious 'terrorism'-related charges or had their workplaces raided" simply for doing their jobs.

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