Human rights groups have blasted France for what they call playing a part in Egypt’s “bloody repression” of dissidents by providing the government of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi with state-of-the-art weapons and surveillance systems.
A report compiled by four Egyptian and French rights groups and released Monday revealed that Paris’ sales of military equipment to Cairo had jumped from 39.6 million to 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) between 2010 and 2016.
Egypt has been using French military and surveillance equipment to stifle all critical voices against the Sisi government, said the groups, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the French-based International Federation for Human Rights, the Human Rights League and Armaments Observatory.
“By supplying Egyptian security services and law enforcement agencies with powerful digital tools, they have helped establish an Orwellian surveillance and control architecture that is being used to eradicate all forms of dissent and citizen action,” the groups said.
The study also said at least eight French firms have “profited from this repression” that has been underway since 2013, when Sisi, the army chief back then, led a military coup to overthrow Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
“Our organizations seek from French companies and authorities an immediate end to these deadly exports,” which take place despite an EU declaration in 2013 that member states had frozen export licenses to Egypt for equipment that could contribute to the crackdown on opposition in the North African state.
The rights institutions also called for a French parliamentary probe into such military sales amid criticism of what activists describe as a lack of transparency on how Paris monitors the use of exported military equipment. Egypt takes delivery of three out of the 24 agreed upon Rafale fighter jets from France.