The French president invited his Egyptian counterpart to the G7 summit confusing human rights groups who said the invitation is “a striking choice.”
More than 20 human rights organizations made a joint statement urging French President Emmanuel Macron to denounce the continuous human rights abuses occurring in Egypt, as the country's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi attended the G7 summit in France.
"Political prisoners detained for peaceful activities should be immediately released, and those jailed after unfair trial procedures or without trial should be tried or re-tried in proceedings that meet Egypt's international human rights obligations," the groups said in their statement.
"If these abuses are left unquestioned, the G7 summit will de facto legitimize President el-Sissi's utter disregard for Egypt's human rights obligations," they added.
Macron who invited Sissi to the summit which ended Monday confounded the community of human rights groups who expressed the invitation was “a striking choice,” in the context of the open-ended crackdown on opposition in the country. Egypt has been accused of creating “a torture epidemic,” and has one of the worst records on human rights abuses worldwide.
The invitation was all the more incomprehensible as the French president had criticized earlier this year Egypt's human rights record, saying that "things have got worse since October 2017" when Sisi visited Paris.
The North African country was also set to hold next month a United Nations-backed conference on defining and criminalizing torture in legislation in the Arab region. However, it was later delayed after human rights groups denounced the U.N.’s choice arguing that the Egyptian government was trying to use the event to whitewash its practices of torture and abuses.
Since Sissi took power after a coup against late President Mohammed Morsi, the country has seen unprecedented repression and a surge in torture practices against rights groups, civil society organizations, journalists, and political opponents.
United States President Donald Trump also met with Sissi on the sidelines of the G7 summit on Monday.
“We understood each other very well. He’s a very tough man, I will tell you that. But he’s also a good man, and he’s done a fantastic job in Egypt. Not easy,” Trump praised his Egyptian counterpart in a press conference alongside Sissi.