Amnesty International (AI) said Feb. 1 it has gathered evidence that the Egyptian government is covering up the deaths of more than two dozen people in protests on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising. Twenty-seven people died in protests last week, including two women, a 10-year-old child and two members of the security forces. AI found that security forces fired shotguns and tear gas against nonviolent crowds and failed to stop clashes among protesters for several hours. The rights group said its investigators have reviewed testimonies from witnesses, photographs and video footage, but the government has threatened and detained witnesses present at the demonstrations to keep them from testifying against security forces. Prosecutors are also reportedly refusing to reveal where the detained protesters are being held and have not permitted lawyers to file complaints. AI is urging that:
Member states must act to hold the Egyptian authorities to account for widespread human rights violations. The Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all those who are detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression or assembly.They must conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the political violence in which protesters, bystanders and residents were killed and injured in order to establish individuals who are responsible and ensure their prosecution in fair trials, without recourse to the death penalty.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein spoke out on Feb. 2 against the excessive force used by security personnel to control the protests. Zeid encouraged the Egyptian government to assume accountability for past injustices. In the last month Egypt has also received criticism from rights groups for its protest law and failure to protect women. AI also reported earlier this month that the Egyptian government is failing to protect women's rights and end violence against women.
From Jurist, Feb. 1. Used with permission.