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France should make human rights central to al-Sisi visit - NGO

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen), following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Cairo on March 2, 2017.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen), following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Cairo on March 2, 2017. KHALED DESOUKI / AFP

The French government should ensure that human rights are central to its relationship with Egypt, Human Rights Watch said Monday. This as President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi visits Paris for the first time since the presidential elections in May.

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France should stop ignoring serious abuses, including Egyptian security services’ widespread and systematic use of torture, which likely constitutes a crime against humanity, rights NGO Human Rights Watch said in statement.

The meetings should serve as an opportunity to revise France’s economic, security, and military support to the Egyptian government, making it conditional on tangible human rights improvements, the statement added.

Under former President Francois Hollande, France provided billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment to Egypt and rarely criticized these serious violations.

“President Macron should not miss the chance to make a first impression on al-Sisi that Egypt’s human rights record will not be given a pass,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch.

“Continuing to support Egypt’s repressive government would betray the country’s brave activists, who face grave risks trying to make their country better.”

In recent years, the French-Egyptian relationship has centered on military and security cooperation and counterterrorism.

Two weeks after Macron took office, on May 30, he called al-Sisi and told him that France “stands with Egypt against terrorism” following the May 26 attack by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) that killed 29 Egyptian Copts in Minya governorate.

This will be Macron's first meeting with President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in Paris on October. Al-Sisi will also meet with the heads of the French National Assembly and Senate.

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