The United States denounced Egypt’s newly expanded counter-terrorism law Tuesday, expressing concern about its potential impact on human rights in the country, a military ally of the US.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi signed a law Sunday that would expand the government’s surveillance powers and, according to critics, muzzle dissent and target critics.
Human rights activists have accused Sissi of leading an increasingly repressive regime.
“We are concerned that some measures in Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law could have a significant detrimental impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
But Kirby reaffirmed that Washington stands with Egypt in its fight against terror.
He also echoed comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry at a strategic dialog in Cairo earlier this month, where Kerry called for finding an equilibrium between counter-terrorism and preserving human rights.
“Defeating terrorism requires a long-term, comprehensive strategy that builds trust between the authorities and the public, including by enabling those who disagree with the government’s policies to express those views peacefully and through participation in the political process,” Kirby added.
The new law comes after a string of attacks on military and police by the Sinai Province, the local affiliate of the Islamic State.
After a tumultuous few months, Washington and Cairo appear to have patched things up with the resumption of US military assistance in March, to the tune of $1.3 billion per year — largely to fight terrorism.