NGOs accuse French companies of contributing to state repression in Egypt, mixed response from companies

In July 2018, a group of international, French, and Egyptian NGOs published a report accusing several French companies of profiting from Egypt's military crackdown on dissent. According to the report, these companies have "participated in the bloody Egyptian repression of the past five years by supplying Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime with military and surveillance equipment." Dassault Aviation,Manurhin, MBDA, Naval Group, Safran, and Arquus (part of Volvo) have reportedly supplied Egypt with a range of military aircraft, warships, armoured vehicles, missles, drones, and ammunition production machines. Other companies including Airbus, Ercom, IDEMIA, and Thales have allegedly provided technology capable of implementing mass surveillance on an unprecedented scale. 

Rights groups also claim that these companies have disregarded the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council 2013 decision to suspend exports of any equipment that could be used for domestic repression in Egypt.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Airbus, Dassault Aviation, Ercom, IDEMIA, Manurhin, MBDA, Naval Group, Safran, Thales, and Volvo. Only Airbus, IDEMIA, Thales, and Volvo provided responses (available below).

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Company response
26 July 2018

Thales responded

Author: Thales

Thales is very concerned by the protection of Human Right. Moreover, Thales fully complies with the French, European and US regulations on export control. The Group fully supports the UN Arms Trade Treaty. All these regulations include the Human Right issues. Further details on Thales commitments regarding Human Rights can be found in its Integrated Report that can be downloaded in its website”.

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Company response
25 July 2018

Airbus responded

Author: Julie Kitcher, Airbus

... Airbus offers a wide portfolio of satellite capabilities and services to governments and institutions... These include Egypt's Nilesat and Algeria's ALSAT 2A, which has spent more than five years in orbit. Airbus works together with states, international organizations and customers to create better defence solutions for a safer and more prosperous world. Its products and technologies help protect freedom and democratic values by enabling governments to guarantee their sovereignty and combat changing terrorism threats and cybercrime. Airbus will always conduct business ethically, based on Airbus values and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. As part of this commitment, Airbus supports the principles of the UN Global Compact and IFBEC's Global Principles of Business Ethics... Complying with export laws and regulations is central or the Airbus culture. Airbus commits itself to respect and follow all export/import compliance laws affecting its technologies and products. The Airbus Export Compliance organization oversees compliance across the group... The Airbus Export Compliance organization closely monitors export/import compliance rules and regulations, which are often changed by governments and supranational organisations to reflect security pressures and ensures all required authorizations are obtained. Furthermore, the more sensitive cases (e.g. projects involved countries subject to restrictive measures) are reviewed on a case by case basis...

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Company non-response
23 July 2018

Dassault Aviation did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Dassault Aviation to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. Dassault Aviation did not respond.

Company non-response
23 July 2018

Ercom did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Ercom to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. Ercom did not respond.

Company non-response
23 July 2018

Manurhin did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Manurhin to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. Manurhin did not respond.

Company non-response
23 July 2018

MBDA did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited MBDA to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. MBDA did not respond.

Company non-response
23 July 2018

Naval Group did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Naval Group to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. Naval Group did not respond.

Company non-response
23 July 2018

Safran did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Safran to respond to allegations of human rights abuse relating to its sales to the Egypitan government. Safran did not respond.

Company response
18 July 2018

Volvo responded

.... Thank you for providing Volvo Group with the opportunity to respond to a recently published report by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) related to the sale of Renault Trucks Defense (Arquus) equipment to the Arab Republic of Egypt. Volvo Group respects human rights and has been a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2001. Volvo Group is committed to conducting its business operations in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions; and to supporting and respecting human rights. Arquus is one of the entities within the Volvo Group that is responsible for sales to government authorities and organizations. Arquus has sold armoured vehicles to the Egyptian Ministry of Defence. The sales have been made in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including export control requirements. The French government has reviewed the proposed sales and end use of the vehicles and approved the transactions. Volvo Group engages in continuous evaluation of its group policies and procedures, including with respect to human rights impacts...

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Company response
11 July 2018

IDEMIA responded

Following a public tender, IDEMIA signed in 2012 an 8-year contract with the Egyptian State for the supply and maintenance of printers for identity cards personalization, as well as the related software package. The company also supplied the State with enrollment devices. IDEMIA is in no way involved in the constitution, or management, of any civil status data bases.

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