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with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law

pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation of civil society in Egypt (2013/2692(RSP))

Franziska Katharina Brantner, Tarja Cronberg, Hélène Flautre, Barbara Lochbihler, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Judith Sargentini, Helga Trüpel, Nikos Chrysogelos, Bart Staes, Malika Benarab-Attou, Ulrike Lunacek on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

European Parliament resolution on the situation of civil society in Egypt (2013/2692(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular of 14 March 2013,


- having regard to the statement by its President on 5 June 2013 on the conviction of 43 NGO workers in Egypt,


- having regard to the joint statement by EU High Representative (HR/VP) Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Füle on the Egyptian NGO trial verdicts of 5 June 2013,


- having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement, and the EU-Egypt ENP Action Plan agreed in 2007,


- having regard to the report of the European Court of Auditors on EU Cooperation in Egypt in the Field of Governance, published on 18 June 2013,


- having regard to the statements on the draft legislation on civil society by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 8 May 2013 and by the UN Secretary-General of 5 June 2013,


- having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Egypt ratified in 1982,


- having regard to the eight core ILO conventions, which Egypt has ratified,


- having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,



A. Whereas Egypt is a key EU partner to the EU in the Southern Mediterranean; whereas political, economic, cultural and social developments in Egypt have significant implications in the whole region and beyond;


B. whereas on 4 June 2013 the North Cairo Criminal Court condemned 43 Egyptian and foreign staff members of five international NGOs (Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the International Centre for Journalists and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation) to one to five years in prison for “managing unlicensed branches” of their organisations, “conducting research, political trainings, surveys and workshops without licenses”, “training political parties and groups” and “illegally receiving foreign funding”; whereas the Court also ordered the confiscation of funds and the closure of the Egypt-based branches of these NGOs; whereas the case was initiated under the previous military-led government in late 2011;


C. whereas a new draft Law on Associations was submitted by President Morsi to the Shura Council on 29 May 2013; whereas this draft law has been strongly criticised, both at home and abroad, for allowing excessive and discretionary restrictions by State authorities on operations of civil society organisations, and thereby fails to comply with Egypt's international human rights obligations;


D. whereas physical violence and harassment against journalists has increased, whereas a number of legal proceedings against journalists and bloggers on the grounds of insulting the President have been initiated; whereas the number of blasphemy cases has increased since President Morsi took office;


E. whereas on 12 March 2013, human rights defender Mr Hassan Mustafa was sentenced to two years imprisonment on charges of allegedly assaulting a staff member of the Alexandria Prosecutor's Office, a charge which he denies; whereas according to his lawyer, the court heard evidence from only two of fifteen witnesses called by the defence;


F. whereas the current draft Law on the Protection of the Right to Peacefully Demonstrate in Public Places would put serious limitations to the freedom of assembly;


G. whereas Egyptian women are in a particularly vulnerable situation in the current period of transition; whereas female protestors are often subject to violence, sexual assaults and other forms of degrading treatment, while women rights activists face threats and harassment; whereas women have witnessed major setbacks in the field of political participation;


H. whereas there are regular reports of cases of restrictions on the right of workers to establish independent unions and of acts of reprisals and intimidation against those attempting to organise and to strike; whereas the failure of employers to recognise or to negotiate with independent unions is a source of considerable social tension; whereas the ILO supervisory bodies have repeatedly called upon the Egyptian authorities to ensure compliance of national legislation with ILO Conventions, including by ending the institutionalization of a single trade union system;


I. whereas the law "On the Protection of the Revolution" adopted on 22 November 2012 has been denounced by Egyptian NGOs as being imprecise as regards the listed crimes and consequently places unacceptable limits on freedoms of speech, media and of assembly;


J. whereas the EU-Egypt Task Force underlined its commitment to the promotion and respect for human rights; whereas the success of the European Neighbourhood Policy as well as that of the reforms in the area of human rights depend on the involvement of civil society in the implementation of the relevant policies;


K. whereas the EU is Egypt's first economic partner and its main source of foreign investment and development cooperation; whereas the EU-Egypt Task Force agreed a major assistance package of EUR 5 billion for 2012-2013;


L. Whereas in line with its revised European Neighbourhood Policy after the Arab Spring and notably the "more for more" approach, the EU’s level and scope of engagement with Egypt is dependent on progress with regard to the country’s respect of its commitments on democracy, rule of law, human rights and gender equality;


M. whereas the European Court of Auditors concluded in June 2013 that the Commission and the EEAS had not been able to effectively manage EU support to improve governance in Egypt;



1. Expresses its deep concern about the situation of civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Egypt; is particularly alarmed by the increasing legal and administrative restrictions, violence, smear campaigns, judicial harassment and other forms of abuse by or with the tacit approval of Egyptian authorities against civil society organisations, notably those active in the field of human rights;


2. Stresses that this crack-down against civil society in Egypt is set against an alarming background of an overall deterioration of the human rights situation and the reversal of the democratisation process initiated since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime;


3. Strongly denounces the judicial decision of 4 June 2013 by the Cairo Criminal Court to sentence 43 Egyptian and foreign NGO workers to jail, to close the local branches of the five foreign NGOs concerned and to confiscate their assets; considers that this politically motivated sentence, which criminalises the legitimate work of foreign organisations in Egypt, is an unacceptable attack against freedom of expression and association in the country and constitutes a serious blow to international and EU efforts to support Egypt in its political transition;


4. Believes that the investigations and the judicial proceedings in the "foreign funding case" were marred by irregularities and government interference; calls on the Egyptian authorities to overturn this ruling and for the President to exercise his pardon prerogative; expresses its solidarity with those sentenced, which had to flee from Egypt and be separated from their families left behind;


5. Expresses concern that further investigations into funding of Egyptian NGOs are reported to be underway; is also concerned by reports that a new law on demonstrations would give the police broad discretion in using force to disperse demonstrations;


6. Is deeply concerned that the draft NGO legislation currently under discussion in the Shura Council would directly contravene Egypt's obligations under international law; considers that this draft would allow for excessive and discretionary control by State authorities over the establishment, funding, operations and internal functioning of NGOs and therefore would seriously threaten the continued existence of an independent civil society in Egypt;


7. Calls upon the Egyptian authorities to review the current draft NGO legislation in line with international standards and to consider postponing the adoption of the bill after the forthcoming parliamentary elections;


8. Expresses concern with regards the numerous reports of violations of labour rights in Egypt; calls upon the Egyptian authorities to allow workers to exercise their right to associate and to carry out their union activities, and to align the domestic legislation with the ILO conventions to which Egypt is a party;


9. Is alarmed by the growing restrictions on freedom of expression, noting that more Egyptian journalists are reported to have faced legal action under the past year than during the entire Mubarak era; deplores that the legislation restricting freedom of expression has still not been revised and that it is regularly used to silence dissent and muffle the media; calls on the Egyptian authorities to end the practice of criminal charges of defamation of religion and to review all sentences on such charges, including the case of Coptic teacher Dimyana Obeid Abd Al Nour;


10. Urges the Egyptian authorities to put an end to all forms of restrictions and criminalisation of non-governmental activity and to allow civil society to resume its vital role in supporting a peaceful and inclusive political and social transformation of the country;


11. Calls for the immediate release of human rights defender Mr Hassan Mustafa and a review of his trial on grounds of reported shortcomings in the proceedings;


12. Expresses profound dismay at the recent assessment of EU support to governance and human rights in Egypt by the European Court of Auditors (ECA); believes that similar major EU policy deficiencies are likely to occur in relation to other third countries, notably in the Neighbourhood; stresses that the ECA report requires a profound rethinking by the EU of its approach to authoritarian regimes and to transition countries, notably with regards the coherence and linkages between its political dialogue and assistance, the application of human rights conditionality, its support to civil society and its budget support policy; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to drastically review their assistance programmes to Egypt and beyond in light of this report; requests that the EEAS and the Commission report back to the Parliament on measures taken to implement the ECA recommendations;


13. Calls on the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to make clear to the Egyptian authorities that the negative developments, notably with regards civil society, constitute a turning point in EU-Egypt relationship; calls on the EEAS and Member States to forcefully request that the Egyptian authorities put an end to interference and any form of pressure, intimidation or harassment against civil society activists and journalists; expects EU assistance, economic integration and other benefits foreseen under the EU-Egypt Task Force, to be conditional upon tangible progress, notably in the areas outlined in the present Resolution;


14. calls on the EU Member States to strictly abide to the Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment, notably with regards to criterion 2 on respect for human rights, in relation to Egypt;


15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the President, government and Shura Council of Egypt.



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