(New York) – Amnesty International said today a ship with a cargo of weapons with explosives that is en route from the United States to Egypt must not be allowed to offload because of a substantial risk the weapons will be used by Egyptian security forces to commit human rights violations.
Amnesty International has tracked the Dutch-flagged ship, MV Schippersgracht – what the organization calls “the ship of shame” -- for the past two months. It is currently in the Mediterranean Sea and due to arrive in Egypt early next week.
At the same time, the human rights organization asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to withhold certification required to release military aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government demonstrates its commitment to protecting human rights. Amnesty International is opposed to any of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt being used for the purchase of weapons, ammunition, military equipment and military vehicles that can be used by Egypt's government to suppress human rights. Amnesty International is also opposed to any waiver of this human rights certification requirement. Read the letter to Secretary Clinton.
"The United States should not place more weapons in the hands of the Egyptian security forces that have shown ongoing disregard for the rights of the Egyptian people," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "It would be flat-out wrong and shameful for the United States to falsely certify that the Egyptian government is protecting human rights – and would send a dangerous signal to waive that certification requirement.”
Last December 23, President Barack Obama signed into law the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which requires the Secretary of State to certify to Congress that the Egyptian government is “implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law” before $1.3 billion in military aid can be provided to the Egyptian government under the Foreign Military Financing Program. The law also enables the Secretary of State to waive the certification requirement on national security grounds.