All governments must suspend the transfer of weapons of the type used by
Egypt’s security forces in violent dispersals and unwarranted lethal
force against sit-ins and other protests, Amnesty International said
The organization has analysed some of the transfers to
Egypt in recent years – including tens of thousands of conventional
weapons worth tens of millions of dollars. Among the countries supplying
weapons and ammunition of the type used during the bloodshed on 14 August are the Czech Republic, China, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the USA.
supplies include military firearms, shotguns, riot control launchers
and corresponding ammunition and projectiles, as well as armoured
vehicles and military helicopters.
“Weapons and equipment
supplied irresponsibly to Egypt by a handful of countries are being used
for excessive force and unlawful killings,” said Salil Shetty,
Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“Deliveries must be
frozen until full, prompt and impartial investigations into the recent
violence – and similar incidents over the past several years – have been
carried out and their findings made public. How could any state
continue to deliver equipment used to disperse demonstrations knowing
full well the Egyptian security forces’ track record?
weapons should be sent until the Egyptian authorities can demonstrate
that the security forces will not use them unlawfully.”
tear gas, armoured vehicles and bulldozers were used by the Egyptian
security forces – including riot police and members of the Ministry of
Interior’s Special Forces – to clear encampments set up by supporters of
Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo. As of Monday, the
death toll had risen to about 900 protesters and bystanders, while on
Sunday Egypt’s Ministry of Interior told Amnesty International that 69
members of the security forces also lost their lives. On Monday, an
additional 25 conscripts serving in the riot police died during an armed
attack in restive Northern Sinai.
“Enough is enough. How many
people must die as a result of the use of excessive force by the
Egyptian security forces before the world wakes up and stops fuelling
such violence?” said Shetty.
“The excessive and unwarranted
lethal force seen this week is part of a pattern documented by Amnesty
International for years. This is why enforcement of the global Arms
Trade Treaty, adopted just a few months ago, is so badly needed.”
International’s call comes as EU Foreign Ministers are due to meet in
Brussels to discuss their response to the situation in Egypt. The
organization calls on all EU member states to fully implement the EU's
existing Common Position on arms exports, as well as the human rights
provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty – which all EU member states have
The organization is also calling on world leaders to
refuse the export of conventional arms when there is an overriding risk
the arms would be used to facilitate serious human rights violations –
the litmus test contained in the global Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. All states should sign and ratify the treaty and implement its human rights provisions without delay
Firearms and ammunition
and ammunition used by the Egyptian security forces include assault
rifles and machineguns – weapons which members of the public are not
permitted to own in Egypt.
Pistols, shotguns, and corresponding
ammunition used by security forces most likely emanate from batch
deliveries of hundreds or thousands of pistols or shotguns, or from
hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cartridges delivered in a
single month. Such batches are more indicative of a government order
than of sales to the general public.
According to Amnesty
International’s research, in recent years the following countries have
transferred weapons to Egypt of the type being used in the current
The Czech Republic sent 15,062
pistols to Egypt in May 2013. This appears to be part of a contract for
50,000 pistols announced that month by the Czech company CZ to equip the
Egyptian police. Whether the remaining 34,438 pistols have been
delivered is not known. The Czech Republic also exported a total of more
than 3,500 pistols to Egypt in two shipments in February and July last
The USA reported exports of 1,524 military
rifles and machineguns to Egypt between January 2011 and June 2013. In
January 2012 the USA supplied Egypt with more than US$10 million worth
of ‘Cartridges Not Containing a Projectile’, and sent a further US$1
million worth of ‘Parts of Cartridges’ two months later. It is likely
that these shipments of components were made into ammunition in Egypt.
USA also exported 2,050 pump-action shotguns in large batches to Egypt
during 2011-2012. In July last year it delivered cartridges for rifles
and pistols worth US$169,479.
an export of 14,406 pistols to Egypt in 2010. The following year, it
reportedly made several transfers of shotgun cartridges worth a total of
From October 2011 to May 2013, Italy
reported exports to Egypt of shotgun cartridges in large batches, worth
a total of €562,231. It also reportedly sent 7,415 “pistols and
revolvers” in April 2010 and significant exports totalling 1,607 single
barrelled shotguns from 2009-11.
From 2011 to 2013, Switzerland reported exports to Egypt of small calibre ammunition (for pistols, rifles and machineguns) worth a total US$295,871.
reported exports to Egypt between October 2011 and December 2012 of
large batches of shotgun cartridges with a total value of €761,724.
According to official records in Egypt, in 2010 China supplied the country with military firearms worth $US100,831,
Germany also reported exports of 1,130 pistols or revolvers during 2009 and 2010 in sufficient batches to cause concern.
Similarly Spain reported a single export of shotgun cartridges in February 2013 worth €176,550 while South Korea reported exports of shotgun cartridges in 2012 worth US$450,965.
Armoured vehicles and other military equipment
As recently as January 2013, France
supplied 47 Sherpa armoured vehicles to the Egyptian security forces,
similar to the 20 vehicles it previously supplied. Many of these
vehicles were seen last week being used to transport police and military
personnel, and protesters pushed one off a bridge.
On 9 October
2011, several protesters were killed in Cairo when Egyptian armoured
personnel carriers and cars drove recklessly and at high speed into
protesters in an attempt to disperse a primarily Coptic demonstration.
Tracked armoured personnel carriers also used in the crackdown have included many NATO-standard type M-113. The Netherlands
has previously delivered 105 variants of this vehicle (AIVF) while the
US has supplied more than 250 of them through its massive military aid
programme to Egypt.
Last week the Egyptian security forces also
used a Boeing AH-64 Apache military attack helicopter to conduct
surveillance over Cairo to facilitate command and control of operations,
and used armoured Caterpillar D7R bulldozers to break up protests and
smash through barricades. Both types of military equipment are made in
According to two research groups,
TransArms USA and the International Peace Information Service, two
vessels operated by the shipping company American President Lines (APL)
docked in Damietta in Egypt in January this year after leaving US ports.
The research groups have obtained six bills of lading –
documents used in the transport of goods by sea – for the ships.
According to those documents, the cargo included parts and components
for tactical and support vehicles, military Humvees (HMMWVs), armoured
vehicles and tanks, helicopters and aircraft of various type, military
electronic equipment and radars, various types of missiles, and various
types of hazardous chemicals.
According to US State Department
statistics, in 2011 the US government authorized more than US$100
million worth of arms sales to Egypt. This included some 73,000 items –
worth in excess of US$1.7 million – listed as “toxic agents”, the
category which includes tear gas. The USA shipped a similar amount of
toxic agents to Egypt in 2010.
EU arms export licences granted in 2011 show that France
exported €26.5 million of electronic components to Egypt, €25 million
of arms-production equipment, €23 million of military aircraft and €21
million of bombs, rockets and missiles. Spain authorized the sale of €78.5 million of military aircraft and Germany gave permits for €57.3 million of military ground vehicles, €9 million of electronic equipment and €6 million of naval vessels.