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AI: Egypt needs 'root-and-branch' reform

Oct. 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM   |   Comments

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CAIRO, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Military and police abuses have left Egypt a "bloody legacy" and attempts at reform "have merely scratched the surface," Amnesty International said Tuesday.

In two reports on the uprising that led to the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak, the human rights organization documented "unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment against protesters by both the military and the police" and said while the Egyptian military ruled Egypt, protesters were tortured and killed with impunity.

"President Mohamed Morsi has a historic opportunity to tackle the bloody legacy of police and army and guarantee that no one is above the law in Egypt," AI said in a news release.

One report describes military forces firing live ammunition at demonstrators -- with 27 killed during the Maspero protests of October 2011, 17 killed in protests outside the Cabinet Offices in December 2011, and 12 killed during the Abbaseya sit-in of May 2012.

The report said the army "acted above the law" but military courts "failed to provide any redress for the victims, while civilian investigators were unable or unwilling to indict a single officer for their crimes."

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of AI's Middle East and North Africa Program, said if soldiers responsible for the violations are not tried before an independent civilian court, there is "no hope that the victims will see justice or that soldiers will fear punishment if they repeat such crimes."

Morsi ordered an investigation in July into the killing and maiming of protesters under military rule but AI said the committee looking into the matter was given a limited amount of time and should be given "enough time, resources and power to summon witnesses and officials and access information to identify the perpetrators."

The second report concluded Egypt's three main police forces engaged in extensive abuses, including torture, and that "endemic abuses by police have continued since the uprising." The report called for "root-and-branch reform to eradicate entrenched abusive behavior."

"The different Interior Ministers that headed the police force since last year's uprising have repeatedly announced their commitment to reforming the police and respecting human rights, but so far reforms have merely scratched the surface," Sahraoui said. "Instead, they have tried to restore emergency-like legislation in the name of restoring security."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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