France urges Egypt to respect rights groups after raids

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France on Friday urged the Egyptian authorities to respect the work of rights groups and said it was concerned by raids on more than a dozen offices belonging to civil society organisations.

"France is concerned by the raids on the offices of several non-governmental organisations in Egypt. Such initiatives do not encourage the peaceful atmosphere needed for the success of the democratic transition that is under way," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Paris "calls on the Egyptian transitional authorities to respect Egypt's international commitments in protecting human rights," he added.

Civil society groups "play an important role in all democracies, must be able to work without hindrance, in a free, independent and responsible way, in accordance with Egyptian law," he said.

Egyptian police raided the offices belonging to rights organisations on Thursday as part of what authorities called an investigation into alleged illicit foreign funding.

The raids, in which no arrests were reported, came as the authorities blamed foreign-funded groups for political unrest in the country after the uprising that ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak in February.

The European Union, Germany and the United States have also voiced concern at the raids.

© 2011 AFP

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