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HRW: Egypt has carried out unlawful extrajudicial executions

A group of people gather to stage a protest against executions in Egypt, in front of the New York Times Building, in New York, United States, on March 02, 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]
A group of people gather to stage a protest against executions in Egypt, in front of the New York Times Building, in New York, United States, on March 02, 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt's Interior Minister and National Security Agency officers have carried out unlawful extrajudicial executions in so-called shootouts, Human Rights Watch has said in a report.

According to the publication, these "armed militants" did not pose an immediate danger to security forces or others when they were extrajudicially killed and often they had been in prison.

The report follows a video leaked in August showing members of the Egyptian military shooting a man at close range whilst he was asleep, and another showing an unarmed man being shot from above as he ran.

At the time, Amnesty said that it showed Egypt holds international law in contempt and called on the Egyptian public prosecution to launch an investigation.

Between January 2015 and December 2020 some 755 people were killed in these so-called shootouts and for 141 of them there was very little detail announced about them, HRW's report says.

Egyptian authorities claimed the men opened fire on them first which is why they had to return fire, however in some cases the video and photographic evidence analysed by HRW was not consistent with purported shootouts.

READ: Enforced disappearance a never-ending crime in Egypt, rights groups say

Authorities also claimed they were terrorists with most being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now outlawed in the country.

The report raises the case of 14 people killed among 75 men and found that no suspects had been arrested and the security forces had not been injured. According to interviews with their family members they had been arrested and were in prison before they were reported to have been killed.

Eight family members reported seeing abuse on their loved ones' bodies including burns, cuts, broken bones and dislocated teeth.

Most of the families said they learned that their loved ones were killed from the news and were not allowed to collect their bodies. When they tried, they were intimidated and harassed by national security officers.

The rights watchdog called on Egypt's allies to end arms sales to Cairo and impose sanctions on officials responsible for abuses, conditioning the resumption of weapons deals on ending these abuses.

"The conclusions drawn from the documented incidents demonstrate a clear pattern of unlawful killings and cast serious doubt on almost all reported 'shootouts', the report said.

Deputy Middle East Director at HRW Joe Stork said: "Egyptian security forces have for years carried out extrajudicial executions, claiming that the men have been killed in shootouts. It's overdue for countries providing weapons and security assistance to Egypt to halt such assistance and distance themselves from Egypt's appalling abuses."

Sisi's Prisons - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Egypt Sisi's Prisons – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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