Trial of Egyptian human rights activists to resume

The trial of 31 human rights activists on charges of spreading false news will be held today in Egypt’s Emergency

Photo: Amr Nabil/Associated Press

The trial of 31 human rights activists on charges of spreading false news will be held today in Egypt’s Emergency State Security Court.

Egypt initiated a state of emergency in 2017, placing speech-related offenses under the jurisdiction of the Emergency State Security Courts. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi formally ended that state of emergency on October 25, 2021, yet legal proceedings against the 31 activists commenced ahead of the state of emergency’s dissolution.

Egypt’s crackdown on human rights activists led the Biden administration to withhold $130 million of the $1.3 billion targeted in annual aid to Egypt in 2021, though, citing national security, the US State Department has avoided Congressional requirements regarding the withholding of the $300 million. Consequently, expect the United States to continue to value its geopolitical relationship with Egypt over the country’s human rights abuses.

Egypt plays an important role in mediating regional conflicts including ones among Libya, Israel and Lebanon. As such, expect the US to continue withholding only a fraction of annual aid to Egypt to appease human rights organizations, while supporting Egyptian diplomacy in the region. Therefore, in the medium- to long-term, expect Egypt to prosecute human rights activists with relative impunity.

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