Waiver on Egypt Aid Undercuts Support for Democracy
The decision by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to waive the conditions mandated by Congress for releasing $1.3 billion of military aid to Egypt undermines efforts to support democracy in the country, according to Freedom House. Legislation signed by President Obama in December 2011 required the Secretary of State to certify that the Egyptian government is “supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law” before military aid could be released. At this time, these conditions have not been met, and a waiver should not have been granted.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has repeatedly failed to uphold the fundamental rights of Egyptian citizens. Investigations into about 400 domestic NGOs are still underway, and staff of foreign organizations, including Freedom House, are scheduled to go to trial on April 10. In addition to the crackdown on civil society, the military prosecutor’s investigation of 12 leading activists and public figures and the recent acquittal of an army doctor charged with conducting forced “virginity tests” show that freedom of expression and the rule of law are still under threat in Egypt.
“The decision to waive the conditions on military aid sends the wrong message to the Egyptian government—that U.S. taxpayers will subsidize the Egyptian military while it continues to oversee the crackdown on civil society and to commit human rights abuses,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “A resumption of military aid at this point also sends the wrong message to the Egyptian people—that we care only about American NGO workers, not about the aspirations of the Egyptian people to build democracy.”
Freedom House urges the U.S. government to redouble its efforts to seek a favorable resolution to the case against Egyptian and international NGOs and calls on the Egyptian government to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens, including to allow all civil society organizations to operate freely in Egypt.
“The U.S. government risks repeating the mistakes of the past, indulging the Egyptian military in the name of regional stability while ignoring what the Egyptian people want,” Kramer said. “Stability in Egypt is best achieved by supporting a full transition to a democratic government, which will uphold human rights and a free society.”
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