German human rights official ‘not welcome’ to visit Egypt
Luise Amtsberg, the German government commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid, cancelled a planned trip to Egypt in February after she was told she would not be welcome, according to a local news report confirmed by her office.
Amtsberg, a Greens member who has held the role since January, confirmed to Middle East Eye on Monday that her trip to Egypt in February “did not go ahead”.
According to the German PNP newspaper, Amtsberg was told by the Egyptians that “she would not be granted a diplomatic visa”.
“Against the backdrop of the problematic human rights situation in Egypt, it was right that the German government highlighted these issues during the UNFCCC COP in November,” Amtsberg told MEE.
“For me, it was important to continue the dialogue on human rights issues beyond the COP. I regret that this was not possible in February."
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Amtsberg's office said she was planning to meet with a range of civil society representatives and human rights defenders, as well as with representatives of the Egyptian government.
In November, during the Cop27 summit held in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Germany complained to Egypt's government that the host country's security services have been surveying its activities, which focused on highlighting the climate crisis as well as Egypt’s human rights situation.
The summit was overshadowed by criticism of the human rights record of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Germany’s events delivered strong criticism towards the host country’s government, as Egyptian officials who joined the talks interrupted the events by taking photos, videos and using other disruptive interventions.
In her comments to MEE, Amtsberg said that “the tense state of human rights in Egypt has not improved in the past few months, in some cases it has even deteriorated.
“Therefore it remains crucial that the international community continues to address Egypt properly.”
Since Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup, his government has run roughshod over basic components of governance, with civil-society organisations crippled by draconian laws prohibiting NGOs from engaging in public affairs.
The German foreign minister said one year ago that human rights criteria would play a role in her government's decision to sell arms to allies, including Egypt.
Western arms exports to the Egyptian government have been condemned by international rights groups as a green light for more human rights abuses.
Egypt has been the top recipient of German arms sales globally in recent years.
In 2021, sales to Egypt boosted Germany's total record exports of €9.35bn ($10.65bn), up by 61 percent from the previous year.
A significant part of the latest sales were maritime and air defence weapons to Egypt. Total German arms sales to Egypt in 2021 amounted to €4.3bn.
Cairo has previously rejected the German foreign ministry's criticism of its human rights record as "unacceptable and unjustified meddling in internal affairs".
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