The European Union External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm, has criticized the Egyptian government’s decision to freeze the assets of leading civil society activists.
“The increased pressure on independent Egyptian civil society, in particular human rights organisations and defenders, is not in line with Egypt’s commitments to promote and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms as guaranteed by its Constitution,” the EEAS said.
But the announcement came as the EU adopted a €50 million assistance package to the regime “to support socio-economic development and civil society.”
The individuals implicated include Hossam Bahgat (above), founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR); Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information; Bahey eldin Hassan, founder of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Mostafa al-Hassan, director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center; and Abdel Hafiz el-Tayel, director of the Egyptian Center on the Right to Education. According to EIPR, “The court issued the order based on a motion from one of the investigating judges in [Case 173] into civil society organizations. State agencies have used the case politically for more than five years as a means to pressure civil society.” It remains unclear what impact the asset freeze may have on each organization.
“The Egyptian authorities are using this case as a way to crush the country’s human rights movement. Meanwhile, the government’s brutal crackdown on dissent shows no signs of stopping, with enforced disappearances and torture becoming a matter of state policy. Egypt needs these critical voices more than ever,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director.