Creating new perspectives since 2009

UN human rights chief calls for probe into Egypt violence

February 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an investigation into the conduct of Egyptian security forces as they cleared the protest camps in Cairo on Wednesday. Navi Pillay, a former war crimes judge, said that the large number of deaths, running into the hundreds, indicates “excessive, even extreme, use of force against demonstrators”.

In a statement issued in Geneva, Pillay said that there should be an “independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation into the conduct of the security forces”. She emphasised that “anyone found guilty in these events should be held accountable”.

Pointing out that the tragic events of Wednesday revealed how the situation in Egypt had become dangerously polarised she added, “Egypt’s security forces must respect the law and act with respect for human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.” Pillay said that she regretted “the loss of life” and appealed to everyone in Egypt to find a way out of the violence. “I urge the Egyptian authorities and the security forces to act with utmost restraint.”

At the same time, the UN human rights supremo expressed her great concern about the attacks on public buildings and places of worship.

Several international organisations have added their concerns that the Egyptian security forces had prepared and carried out the bloody attack against demonstrators while planning to enforce a media blackout of the massacres.

Amnesty International said the Egyptian authorities breached their obligations to ensure the safety and security of peaceful demonstrators. Spokeswoman Sarah Hashash told Al Jazeera that the organisation is in the process of issuing a statement on the situation in Egypt, after a thorough evaluation is completed and Amnesty has received reports from its delegate in Cairo.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Britain said that what happened on Wednesday in Egypt threatens peace and security regionally and internationally. The AOHR accused everyone who participated in the attack in any way of being “implicated in crimes against humanity”. It pointed out that the army has taken the country into a state of chaos, with soldiers involved in summary executions in the field through the use of snipers against unarmed civilians.