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Export of Czech Arms to Egypt violates EU embargo

Press Release NESEHNUTI, 20 February 2014

According to information published recently by the media, the Czech Republic plans to export guns and ammunition and deliver them to the Egyptian police. Rights group NESEHNUTÍ warns that this contradicts the opinion of the EU Council, requiring the member states to stop export of arms to Egypt. This embargo came into force on 21 August 2013, after a bloody massacre in Cairo, and it has not been lifted so far.

According to the news server e15.cz, CESKA ZBROJOVKA (Czech small-arms producer) is going to export to Egypt 29,000 handguns CZ 75 and another Czech company Sellier & Bellot is planning to export 10 million pieces of ammunition, caliber 9 mm [1]. CESKA ZBROJOVKA already exported 50,000 guns to Egypt last year and had agreements to export more. In August 2013, however, the next deliveries were cancelled after 14 August 2013 violent intervention by the Egyptian police, in which several hundred protestors were killed. This event forced the European Union to reconsider its export policy and to stop promptly the export of arms to Egypt.

Paragraph 8 of the EU Council Conclusions on Egypt of 21 August 2013 states: “Member States also agreed to suspend export licenses to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression (…)". [2]

It is exactly the guns and ammunition that can be easily misused for internal repression," says Peter Tkac from NESEHNUTÍ and adds, "The planned sale to the Egyptian police would contradict the embargo the European Union. Therefore it is necessary the Czech Republic cancel the license to export the weapons. "

According to NESEHNUTÍ, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who should take action. Licenses for individual arms exports are granted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade following positive opinion expressed by other relevant ministries. And Ministry of Foreign Affairs is obliged to take into account human rights situation in the country where arms are to be delivered as well as international obligations of the Czech Republic.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Egypt is one of the largest consumers of the Czech weapons [3]; exports have not dropped significantly after the bloody events of the Arab Spring in 2011 either (see the attachment). According to the Guardian, the Czech Republic is one of the biggest exporters of ammunition to Egypt. [4] "We have been delivering arms to Egypt for a long time, regardless who is in power there at the moment. We supplied arms to Mubarak, now we supply them to his opponents. It is obvious that instead of the proclaimed security, it is business that interests the Czech Republic most. It should be noted that it is bloody business," comments Peter Tkac from NESEHNUTI.

On 14 August 2013, Egyptian police intervened with live ammunition against two protests in Cairo. Several hundred people lost their lives and according to Human Rights Watch, it was the most serious case of unlawful mass killing in modern Egyptian history [5]. The suppression of human rights in Egypt continues and has been condemned by many human rights organizations worldwide [6], [7].

Contact:

Peter Tkac, campaign coordinator of armstrade watch group, +420 736704785, peter@nesehnuti.cz, twitter: @PetoTkac

Notes:

[1]  www.zpravy.e15.cz (in Czech)

[2] Union Council Conclusions on Egypt (PDF)

[3] Annual reports on czech arms exports from  Ministry of Industry and Trade (in Czech)

[4] Guardian Datablog

[5] Human Rights Watch — Egypt: Security Forces Used Excessive Lethal Force

[6] Amnesty International — Egypt three years on, wide scale repression continues unabated

[7] Freedom House — Egypt Ends 2013 with Another Month of Post-Coup Repression

Attachment:

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