Work by Civil Society Key Topic for Obama's Talks with el-Sisi | Freedom House

Work by Civil Society Key Topic for Obama's Talks with el-Sisi

Washington

In advance of President Obama’s meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 25, against a background of intensifying human rights abuses in Egypt, Freedom House released the following statement:

“Freedom House endorses President Obama’s statement of strong American support for Egyptian civil society and urges him to make civil society a major part of his discussions with al-Sisi,” said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. “It’s vital that he press the Egyptian government to end its egregious human rights abuses and allow civil society to exercise its internationally-guaranteed right to operate freely, including by receiving foreign funds.”

“If President Obama is truly serious about supporting civil society in Egypt, he needs to tell el-Sisi that his government should overturn the verdicts convicting eight American and 35 international civil society workers of all charges in the so-called ‘foreign funding’ case. Many of those convicted on these politically-motivated charges were carrying out human rights programs paid for by the United States.”

Background to Obama's Talks with el-Sisi

President Obama plans to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 25.  The meeting comes against a background of intensifying human rights abuses, with at least 40,000 individuals swept up and imprisoned on vague political charges since the coup of July 3, 2013, and the largely unrestrained use of deadly force and mass killings by the security forces. This includes some 1,000 people killed in August 2013 during the breakup of a mostly peaceful sit in at Rab’a al-Adawiya in Cairo, a massacre a Human Rights Watch investigative report termed “premeditated.”

Government efforts to restrict the activities of civil society have expanded dramatically through new legal restrictions, persecution and harassment of CSO workers, both Egyptians and foreigners, and efforts to tightly control or prohibit access to funding from foreign governments or international CSOs.  President el-Sisi on September 21 signed an amendment to Article 78 of the penal code, which could punish those who receive foreign or local funding with potential life sentences and a minimum fine of 500,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $70,000).

In his speech to the Clinton Global Initiative in September 23, President Obama strongly supported the right of civil society to operate freely, and he singled out the plight of civil society in Egypt. He went on to say the United States will “oppose attempts by foreign governments to dictate the nature of our assistance to civil society.” 

To learn more about Egypt, visit:
Egypt Democracy Compass 
Freedom in the World 2014: Egypt
Freedom of the Press 2014: Egypt
Freedom on the Net 2013: Egypt
Open Letter to President Obama about Egyptian President el-Sisi

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.


Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc) and stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our RSS feedsnewsletter and our blog.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.