Freedom House Welcomes Aid Conditions on Egypt and Bahrain
Freedom House welcomes the Senate Appropriations Committee's decision to restrict funding for Egypt and Bahrain if the countries continue to commit human rights abuses.
On May 24 the Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which provides $ 52.1 billion for international affairs and foreign assistance. The bill would require the Secretary of State to certify that Egypt’s government is ‘democratically elected’ and that the country is working to protect basic rights before releasing the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt. This certification can be waived for reasons of national security. The bill also deducts the $5 million paid by the U.S. government in bail to release American NGO workers from Cairo in March 2012.
Aid to Bahrain would be conditioned on the protection of freedom of expression, association, and assembly, on release of individuals charged with offenses relating to peaceful expression, and on investigations into the involvement of government officials in rights violations. The legislation would also prevent the Bahraini government from receiving “crowd control” equipment, including tear gas, ammunition, and small arms.
"The provisions passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee are vital to ensuring that American foreign assistance does not aid human rights abusers or hinder democratic development," said Sarah Trister, manager of Congressional affairs at Freedom House. "The U.S. government must use all of the tools in its belt to encourage political and social reform in both Egypt and Bahrain, where wide scale repression continues."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived restrictions on $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt for FY 2012 in March of this year following the release of American NGO workers from Egypt, despite the fact that American NGOs remain the subject of politically motivated prosecutions.
Bahraini authorities have committed widespread human rights abuses, and systematically used torture against detainees since protests began in February 2011. In May 2011, the U.S. announced that it would restart sales of certain types of equipment, including radar systems, helicopters, and coastal patrol boats to the Bahraini government, but not items used for ‘repression,’ including tear gas and stun grenades.
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