Kerry Statement on Egyptian NGO Verdicts Misses Mark
Washington, D.C. – Secretary of State John Kerry’s response to this morning’s guilty verdicts against international and Egyptian nongovernmental organizations misses the mark, says Human Rights First.
“Secretary Kerry is right to engage on this, is right to identify the trial as politically-motivated, and is right to say that such verdicts are incompatible with a transition to democracy,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “But the U.S. government needs to spell out what it’s going to do about U.S. NGOs having their employees sentenced to prison and their offices closed down. Secretary Kerry should clearly state that the U.S. government is prepared to work with international donors to support Egypt’s transition to a democracy but not to return to authoritarianism. Non-governmental organizations must be allowed to work without Egyptian government interference.”
This morning’s verdicts found all 43 defendants guilty, including 27 of whom were tried in absentia. The convicted were sentenced them to between one and five years in prison, with some sentences suspended. The U.S. NGOs involved included Freedom House, IRI and, the NDI.
“There is no doubt these verdicts are part of a much wider crackdown on Egyptian civil society,” concluded Dooley. “The U.S. government needs to act decisively and immediately to lay out what the consequences of these verdicts and other assaults on NGOs are for its relationship with Egypt.”