WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding his authorities as Chairman, to block foreign military financing to Egypt until the country takes meaningful steps to improve human rights conditions in the country.
“The United States and Egypt share strategic interests that are long-standing, starting with Egypt’s region-changing decision to be the first Arab nation to make peace with the State of Israel, to its critical efforts today to de-escalate tensions in the region in pursuit of a comprehensive peace. Egypt’s stability is in the U.S. national interest, and that interest is best served when the Egyptian government is taking sustainable, concrete, and meaningful steps to improve respect for the human rights of its citizens.
“Congress has been clear, through the law, that the government of Egypt’s record on a range of critical human rights issues, good governance, and the rule of law must improve if our bilateral relationship is to be sustained.
“As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I believe it is imperative that we continue to hold the government of Egypt, and all governments, accountable for their human rights violations.
“I intend to exercise fully the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and my authorities to hold foreign military funds and the sale of arms to the government of Egypt, if it does not take concrete, meaningful, and sustainable steps to improve the human rights conditions in the country.
“Specifically, we must see progress on efforts to:
- reform and improve significantly its pre-trial detention practices,
- accelerate the pardon and release of political prisoners, which include thousands imprisoned for their speech and association, and
- provide space for human rights defenders, civil society advocates, political opposition, and independent media in Egypt.
“I have spoken with Secretary Blinken, and I look forward to working with the Biden administration on our shared goal of protecting and expanding human rights in Egypt. My hold on current funds will remain until specific human rights progress is made.