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UK signs $8.5bn deals with Egypt amid escalating human rights crisis

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at 10 Downing Street on 21 January 2020 in London, England [Henry Nicholls-WPA Pool/Getty Images]

The UK’s ambassador to Egypt has announced that £6.5 billion ($8.5 billion) worth of commercial deals were signed between Egypt and Britain as the Egyptian dictator visited London this week.

Among the deals are £25 million ($32.8 million) of investment by the retail outlet Matalan and a further £5 million ($6.6 million) by the pharmaceutical company GSK.

Al-Sisi arrived in the UK to speak at the British-African investment conference, meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday and Prince William in Buckingham Palace.

The announcement is yet another sign that ties between the two allies continue to grow despite increasing concerns over human rights in Egypt.

Last week Moustafa Kassem became the first US citizen to die in Egypt’s jails after being denied appropriate medical care, reigniting condemnation of the regime’s use of deliberate medical neglect as a punitive measure against detainees.

READ: A Downing Street coup for Egypt’s Sisi

Johnson, along with US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have been under pressure from human rights groups to call out Al-Sisi’s human rights abuses, including the sentencing to death of juveniles, systematic torture and extrajudicial killing.

Their failure to do so has been interpreted as a blank cheque for Egypt to continue violations.

Egyptians living in Britain organised a protest outside the headquarters of the investment conference to protest against the dictator’s participation.

Demonstrators raised the issue of political prisoners, demanding the UK “drop the military regime” and “restore the rights of Egyptian opponents, whether arrested, killed, kidnapped, forcibly disappeared or deported from their country.”

READ: Egypt expands arrest campaigns ahead of revolution anniversary

Adding that Al-Sisi only represents the interests of a corrupt regime, the protesters denounced the UK’s plans to strengthen economic ties with Egypt in the post-Brexit era.

Ahead of Al-Sisi’s visit a legal chambers in the UK, International Justice Chambers Guernica 37, called on London’s counter-terror units to issue an arrest warrant for the Egyptian president for his role in the death of Mohamed Morsi, the former president who collapsed during a court session in June 2019.

Guernica 37 said the UK was responsible for taking action on torture-related crimes regardless of where they were committed.

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