Today, Tuesday May 17th, the Court of Appeal in The Hague has ruled that the Dutch State may continue to export arms to Egypt. A coalition of peace and human rights organisations initiated summary proceedings against the Dutch State to halt arms exports to Egypt.
The Netherlands exports military systems to the Egyptian armed forces, which can contribute to serious human rights violations of the local population in North Sinai. These include advanced radar and communication systems that are built into war frigates. Such systems are the ears and eyes of a military force, and can thus play a role in the military violence in North Sinai. Moreover, Egypt is a partner of Saudi Arabia, which has been fighting a war in Yemen for over seven years now.
The organisations PAX, Stop Wapenhandel and the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) react with disappointment. Even if the weapons have not yet been exported, NGOs must demonstrate that these weapons will be used in violations of international law. As a result, the Court sets the bar so high that it is almost impossible for human rights and peace organisations to halt arms exports. Despite many red flags about the worrisome human rights situation in North Sinai, the Court ruled that the Dutch State may continue to supply weapons to Egypt. Michel Uiterwaal of peace organisation PAX explains: “To stop an arms export to a country like Egypt, we almost have to predict the future. We maintain that the Netherlands should not supply weapons if there are indications of imminent human rights violations, but unfortunately the Court has ruled otherwise.”
Wendela de Vries of Stop Wapenhandel emphasizes: “Despite having far more resources at its disposal, the State appears unable to get all relevant facts on the table. How can a well-informed decision about arms exports then be made? We will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt, and will also raise alarm on future licenses if necessary.”
Read the entire verdict here.