Washington, DC — House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory W. Meeks together with 10 Representatives of the Committee, sent a letter to Secretary Blinken calling on the Biden Administration not to certify the human rights conditioned portion of foreign military financing (FMF) for Egypt this year given Egypt’s failure to meet the criteria as outlined in law (Sec. 7041(a) of the FY22 Appropriations bill).
The letter recognizes the deeply rooted and multi-faceted U.S.-Egypt bilateral relationship including important security and political dimensions for the region. Though Egypt recently released a small number of political detainees, it has imprisoned thousands and has continued to engage in large-scale human rights abuses, both within Egypt as well as extraterritorially. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Project on Middle East Democracy, and 20 other human rights groups released a public letter calling for the Administration not to certify the rights-conditioned portion of funds. In an extensive investigative project, the New York Times has documented such abuses, and Reporters Without Borders cited Egypt as “one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists.”
Full text of the letter can be found here and excerpts below:
“We acknowledge the historic, deeply rooted bilateral U.S.–Egypt relationship, based in shared social, economic, and political ties. We recognize and affirm the important role Egypt has played in the Middle East, historically in the Camp David Accords and subsequent Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, being the first Arab state to recognize and normalize relations with Israel in a courageous and intrepid diplomatic endeavor. Egypt has continued to play a proactive role in the region by supporting and encouraging efforts related to the Abraham Accords as well as facilitating talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian groups.
“Nonetheless, we are strongly concerned by reports from both the State Department as well as numerous credible human rights and civil society organizations about the persistent and continued systemic violations of human rights in Egypt. Thousands of Egyptians including journalists, peaceful civil society activists, human rights defenders, and political figures remain detained on politically motivated charges and are often subject to abuse, mistreatment, and medical neglect.
“Therefore, as the Department weighs whether to grant Egypt the $320 million in FY22 FMF or to withhold such funds from obligation, we call on you not to certify that Egypt has taken “sustained and effective steps” to implement the criteria as required by law.
“As we continue to stand for the prioritization of basic human rights in our foreign policy and call on the Administration to adhere to the spirit and letter of the law in ensuring progress in the U.S.–Egypt relationship, we call on you to withhold the full $320 million of FY22 FMF until Egypt’s human rights record significantly improves.”
The letter is additionally signed by Representatives Connolly, Jacobs, Keating, Castro, Titus, Lieu, Wild, Phillips, Kamlager-Dove, and Crow.