27 United Nations member states are alarmed by Egypt’s repeated use of excessive force against demonstrators and have turned the international spotlight onto Egypt’s human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today. The joint declaration on March 7, 2014 called for Egyptian authorities to hold those responsible for the abuses to account. The 27 countries also denounced Egypt’s restrictions on peaceful assembly, expression and association and urged the government to release those who were arrested for merely exercising those rights.
This action was prompted by a group of 15 NGOs, including HRW, who sent a letter to UN member states last week calling on the Human Rights Council to address the “grave situation of human rights in Egypt at the upcoming 25th Session of the UN HRC.” According to Julie de Rivero, Geneva director at HRW: “Egyptian authorities are now on notice that the international community will not ignore their crackdown on dissent and impunity for repeated, unlawful killings of protesters.”
Over the past eight months, human rights abuses have grown exponentially mainly as a result of the excessive use of lethal force against protesters and the manner in which the authorities arrest and harass journalists, peaceful protesters, and others for exercising the right to free expression and assembly. “Egyptian officials should understand that the world is watching and will not accept denial, foot-dragging, and impunity for pervasive rights violations,” said Julie de Rivero.
A regulation to deem the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation has also led to a series of illegal arrests. No efforts have been made to hold security officials accountable for ordering and carrying out attacks that have killed well over 1,000 people since July 3, 2013.
Many human rights NGOs have called for the findings of the national Fact Finding Commission, established by the interim President in December 2013 to enforce accountability on those responsible for grave violations. “After killing hundreds and arbitrarily detaining many more, Egypt needs to act to address serious concerns about its human rights record,” de Rivero assured.