HRW Urges Kerry to Delay Aid to Egypt

Human Rights Watch calls on Washington not to resume military assistance to Egypt until its government ends human rights abuses.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Egyptian riot police prepare to crack down on
Egyptian riot police prepare to crack down on

Human Rights Watch has called on the United States not to resume military assistance to Egypt until its military-backed government ends human rights abuses and holds violators accountable, reported Reuters.

In October, the United States announced it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.

U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Friday released a letter it had sent earlier in the week to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, following comments indicating that he would make a decision on aid resumption in the coming weeks.

Kerry must certify that Egypt is moving towards a democratic transition and protecting basic freedoms for the aid to resume.

"In the view of Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities continue to violate basic rights essential for the functioning of democracy," the letter said, according to Reuters.

The letter added that the military-backed government had killed more than 1,000 protesters and detained at least 16,000 people since Morsi was ousted in July following mass protests against his rule.

"The question is no longer whether Egypt is on the road to democratic transition, but how much of its brute repression the U.S. will paper over," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"An accurate appraisal of Egypt's record since the military-backed overthrow of President Morsi would conclude that, far from developing basic freedoms, the Egyptian authorities are doing the opposite," she stated.

Egypt has come under criticism over the past week after a judge handed down death sentences to 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the sentencing "shocking" and warned Cairo that the move may affect the aid it receives from Washington.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)