A truck drives in front of security and riot police guards, outside Tora prison, where several Egyptian journalists are in custody, in Cairo, Egypt June 17, 2019. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

CPJ, other groups urge Biden administration not to waive human rights conditions on Egypt aid

The Committee to Protect Journalists today joined 13 other civil society groups in sending an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, assistant to the president for national security affairs, urging the Biden administration not to waive human rights conditions in sending military aid to Egypt for fiscal year 2020. 

In response to Egypt’s deteriorating human rights record, since 2014 Congress has conditioned part of the United States’ $1.3 billion of annual military aid to Egypt on meeting a set of conditions related to human rights and the rule of law, as the letter states. Despite being unable to certify that Egypt met these conditions, the two previous administrations have used a national security waiver from Congress to release the conditioned aid, according to the letter. 

The letter asks the Biden administration to change course and commit to conditioning aid upon improvement in human rights and the rule of law. 

CPJ joined the letter due to Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi’s actions to undermine press freedom in the country, which include jailing journalists and blocking news websites. As of December 1, 2020, there were at least 27 journalists behind bars in Egypt, making it the third worst jailer of journalists in the world. Most Egyptian journalists are held in custody on a pretrial basis without being convicted of a crime, according to CPJ’s research. 

The joint letter can be read here.