20 NGOs urge France to criticize Egyptian president

Twenty NGOs have urged French President Emmanuel Macron to denounce Egypt's human rights record, criticizing the invitation of Egyptian president to the G7 summit to be held in France on Saturday and Sunday.

"It was a striking choice for France to invite Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to attend the 24-26 August in Biarritz, for which the chosen theme is 'the fight against inequality'," the NGOs which included Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, and Egyptian civil society groups said in a statement on Thursday.

The statement said the number of Egyptians under the poverty line has clearly risen according to official Egyptian 2018 statistics, while the World Bank estimates that most of 's population is either poor or vulnerable.

"Public space has been virtually closed down in Egypt in the midst of a worsening human rights crisis, with a severe rollback of the freedoms of expression, assembly, association and the press. The political sphere is extremely restricted for opposition political parties," the statement stressed.

It said that ahead of the fall 2019 review of Egypt's rights record at the UN Human Rights Council, 20 rights groups are calling on Macron to speak out on the continuing human rights crisis in Egypt, and urge Sisi during his visit at the G7 to allow Egyptian rights defenders to document violations.

"If these abuses are left unquestioned, the G7 summit will de facto legitimize President al-Sisi's utter disregard for Egypt's human rights obligations," the statement said.

It said that the rights groups urge Macron to call on Sisi to drop all charges and unconditionally release all arbitrarily-detained human rights defenders and journalists, and drop abusive probation measures against them.

"Political prisoners detained for peaceful activities should be immediately released, and those jailed after unfair trial procedures or without trial should be tried or re-tried in proceedings that meet Egypt's international human rights obligations," the statement added.

The NGOs also urged Macron to call on Sisi to implement an immediate moratorium on executions, promptly investigating all reported cases of enforced disappearance and bringing an end to torture.

Sisi led the bloody coup which ousted the first democratically elected president of Egyptian history Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and he has since been in power.

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