News24

Tackle legacy of abuse, Egypt told

2012-10-03 10:21

Cairo - Amnesty International on Tuesday took Egypt's new president to task for failing to address the "bloody legacy" of abuses by security forces committed under military rule after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, which continue even after the establishment of the country's first freely elected government.

The group urged President Mohammed Morsi to hold the military accountable for the killing, torture and sexual abuse of protesters during the 18 months when the generals held power after Mubarak's February 2011 ouster.

It also said Morsi should rein in police forces, which it said still use excessive force to deal with protests and have tortured detainees. It called for the government to allow the UN experts to investigate and assess how to deal with the problems.

"Unless there is a clear political will to confront this and to provide the families of the victims with truth and justice, things are not going to change," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Program, told The Associated Press.

"For the moment, police officers, soldiers are confident that they can commit violations with impunity without ever having to answer for any of their acts," she said.

Violent crackdown

Two extensive reports released by the London-based human rights group in Cairo on Tuesday detailed cases of rights abuses by the army and police, focusing on six separate incidents of crackdowns on protests that killed at least 120 people. Amnesty said thousands of protesters were injured or maimed — with documented cases of loss of eyesight — during the crackdowns, and that detainees were tortured in custody.

Most of the crackdowns took place during the post-Mubarak period of rule by a council of generals, during which soldiers had a major role in keeping security inside the country. The military has largely backed down from that role ever since Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, was inaugurated at the end of June as the new president

But Morsi's failure to seek accountability from the police and military for those abuses has only fueled a culture of impunity that is allowing violations to continue, Amnesty warned. One of the Amnesty documented cases of violent crackdown by the police against protesters took place after Morsi came to power in August, in which one was killed.

Officials in Morsi's office did not respond to requests by The Associated Press for comment on the report.

Karim Ennarah, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights who spoke at a news conference by Amnesty on Tuesday, said it appeared that police abuses are getting worse in the three months since Morsi came to power.