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Thursday, 10 March 2016 - Strasbourg
Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni

European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2016 on Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni (2016/2608(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular those of 17 December 2015(1) and 15 January 2015(2),

–  having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) conclusions on Egypt of 21 August 2013 and of 10 February 2014,

–  having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, on Torture, on Freedom of Expression and on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to the response of 27 October 2015 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to Written Question E‑010476/2015 on EU and Member State military support to Egypt,

–  having regard to the Egyptian Constitution, in particular Articles 52 (on torture) and 93 (on the binding nature of international human rights law),

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, to which Egypt is a party,

–  having regard to the statement by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, which reported the disappearance of 1 700 people at the hands of the state security forces in 2015,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, according to information available, Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian doctoral student at Cambridge University, disappeared on 25 January 2016 after leaving his home in Cairo; whereas his body was found on 3 February 2016 next to a road on the outskirts of Cairo;

B.  whereas the Egyptian authorities ordered a post-mortem examination before repatriating his body to Italy, where Italian investigators performed their own post-mortem; whereas the results have yet to be made public; whereas the Egyptian authorities have affirmed that they have nothing to hide regarding this murder, that they are equally interested in finding the truth and that they are ready to cooperate fully with their Italian counterparts in the ongoing investigation;

C.  whereas, according to media reports and to the Italian ambassador to Cairo, Mr Regeni’s body was found to have been subjected to severe beating and multiple forms of torture; whereas the Italian Interior Minister said that the body showed signs of ‘something inhuman, animal-like, an unacceptable violence’;

D.  whereas Mr Regeni was conducting research in Cairo on the development of independent trade unions in post-Mubarak and post-Morsi Egypt, and had contact with opponents of the government;

E.  whereas the case of Giulio Regeni follows a long list of enforced disappearances that have occurred in Egypt since July 2013; whereas these disappearances are met with impunity;

F.  whereas the current Egyptian Government has conducted a large-scale campaign of arbitrary detention of critics of the government, including journalists, human rights defenders and members of political and social movements; whereas, since July 2013, more than 22 000 people have been detained, according to the Egyptian authorities;

G.  whereas the El Nadeem Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence is under threat of closure by the authorities as a result of false accusations pertaining to health violations; whereas the centre’s role has been critical in treating victims of violence and torture, and has been crucial to the provision of information on torture, killings and the worst abuses in detention;

H.  whereas Egypt is a long-standing strategic partner of the European Union; whereas the EU’s level of engagement with Egypt should be incentive-based, in line with the ‘more for more’ principle of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and depend on progress in reforming democratic institutions and in relation to the rule of law and human rights; whereas on 21 August 2013 the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) tasked the VP/HR with reviewing EU assistance to Egypt; whereas the FAC decided that the EU’s cooperation with Egypt would be readjusted in line with developments on the ground;

I.  whereas the FAC conclusions of 21 August 2013 stated that, ‘Member States also agreed to suspend export licences to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licences of equipment covered by Common Position 2008/944/CFSP and review their security assistance with Egypt’; whereas these conclusions were reiterated by the FAC in February 2014; whereas the VP/HR confirmed in her response of 27 October 2015 to Written Question E‑010476/2015 that these conclusions constituted ‘a political commitment against any military support to Egypt’;

J.  whereas the Egyptian Constitution adopted in 2014 enshrines fundamental rights and freedoms;

K.  whereas Egypt faces terrorism from various jihadi organisations which are active in Egypt, in particular in Sinai, and which have links to Islamic State and other terrorist organisations active in the Libyan crisis; whereas the ongoing conflict in Libya has a direct influence on Egypt’s security; whereas the ongoing crisis is of serious concern to the European Union, and Italy in particular;

1.  Strongly condemns the torture and assassination under suspicious circumstances of EU citizen Giulio Regeni, and expresses its deep sympathy and condolences to the family;

2.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to provide the Italian authorities with all the documents and information necessary to enable a swift, transparent and impartial joint investigation into the case of Mr Regeni in accordance with international obligations, and for every effort to be made to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice as soon as possible;

3.  Underlines with grave concern that the case of Giulio Regeni is not an isolated incident, but that it occurred within a context of torture, death in custody and enforced disappearances across Egypt in recent years, in clear violation of Article 2 of the EU‑Egypt Association Agreement, which states that the relations between the EU and Egypt are to be based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which is an essential element of the agreement; calls, therefore, on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to raise with the Egyptian authorities the routine practice of enforced disappearances and torture and to press for effective reform of Egypt’s security apparatus and judiciary;

4.  Is deeply concerned about the imminent threat of forced closure of the El Nadeem Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture; calls for the swift withdrawal of the order for its administrative closure;

5.  Expresses concern at the continuous harassment of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms for its apparent role in the ‘Stop Enforced Disappearance’ campaign in Egypt;

6.  Reminds the Egyptian authorities of their national and international legal obligations, and calls on them to prioritise the protection and promotion of human rights and to ensure accountability for violations of such rights; calls, once again, for the immediate and unconditional release of all individuals detained and sentenced solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including human rights defenders, media professionals and bloggers; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure the right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards;

7.  Calls on the Government of Egypt to guarantee that domestic and international civil society organisations and independent trade unions can operate freely without government interference or intimidation in the country; calls on the Egyptian authorities to withdraw the travel bans imposed on a number of Egypt’s leading human rights defenders;

8.  Expects the new Constitution, approved on 14 and 15 January 2014, in particular Articles 52, 73 and 93 thereof, to constitute an important step forward in the country’s transition to democracy;

9.  Takes note of the formation of the new People’s Assembly, and calls on it to review as a matter of urgency the repressive Protest Law of November 2013, which has been used to clamp down on all forms of peaceful dissent, as well as the Assembly Law of 1914; calls also for the review of all other repressive legislation adopted in violation of Egypt’s Constitution, including the Law on Terrorist Acts and the Law on Terrorist Entities, which could be misused for internal repression rather than to improve collective security; stresses its readiness, in partnership with the country’s authorities, to study the possibility of developing a capacity-building programme for the Egyptian parliament;

10.  Insists that only by building a truly pluralistic society, respectful of the diversity of views and lifestyles, can long-term stability and security in Egypt be ensured, and calls on the Egyptian authorities to commit to a reconciliation dialogue bringing together all non‑violent forces, including non-violent Islamists, in order to rebuild trust in politics and the economy in an inclusive political process;

11.  Underlines the importance that the European Union attaches to cooperation with Egypt as an important neighbour and partner, and Egypt’s role in ensuring stability in the region; shares the concerns of the Egyptian people about the economic, political and security challenges facing their country and the region; condemns the terrorists’ attacks on Egyptian civilians and military;

12.  Calls for the EU, in particular the VP/HR and the EU Delegation in Cairo, to ensure regular exchanges with human rights defenders and other voices of dissent, to support those at risk or in detention and to monitor their trials in a comprehensive manner;

13.  Urges the Member States to adhere fully to the FAC conclusions of August 2013 concerning the export of military technology and equipment and security cooperation; calls for exports of surveillance equipment to be suspended when there is evidence that such equipment would be used for human rights violations; calls on the VP/HR to report on the current state of military and security cooperation by EU Member States with Egypt, and to develop a roadmap in close consultation with the European Parliament outlining concrete steps to be taken by the Egyptian authorities to improve significantly the human rights situation and achieve comprehensive judicial reform before a reassessment of the FAC conclusions of August 2013 can be considered;

14.  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, the President and Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0463.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0012.

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