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Amnesty International: Egyptian police granted leeway in use of force

Special to WorldTribune.com

LONDON — Egypt’s huge security forces lack accountability amid their
killing and maiming of pro-democracy protesters, a report said.

Amnesty International said Egypt’s police and Central Security Forces
have been given a free hand in shooting and driving armored vehicles into
pro-democracy protesters.

Protests calling for the resignation of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections rally at Cairo's Tahrir Square on June 30.

Protesters calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections rally at Cairo’s Tahrir Square on June 30.

The London-based human rights group said the Interior Ministry failed to issue clear instructions on dealing with peaceful demonstrators since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011.

“Since the start of the ’25 January Revolution’ Egyptian security forces, including members of the police, the Central Security Forces and military police, have used unnecessary and excessive force against protesters,” the report said.

“They have used tear gas, batons, rubber bullets and live ammunition, including shotgun pellets, to forcibly disperse protesters, and on several occasions have driven armored vehicles into packed crowds resulting in numerous deaths and injuries.”

The report, titled “Egypt: Security Forces Must Show Restraint and
Prevent Protest Bloodshed,” said the security forces have repeatedly
violated international standards of human rights. Amnesty said security
forces intentionally and unnecessarily used lethal force while failing to
stop clashes between protesters and fighters from the ruling Muslim
Brotherhood movement.

“Despite repeated requests by Amnesty International among others, the
Egyptian authorities are yet to make public the internal rules issued to the
security forces on the use of force, or details of their chain of command,”
the report, dated June 28, said. “Calls to overhaul the security apparatus
to remove those reasonably suspected of committing human rights violations
and prevent further abuse have also gone unheeded.”

The report was issued on the eve of a massive protest campaign to demand
the resignation of Egypt’s first Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi. Amnesty
said the record of Egypt’s police in handling peaceful demonstrations was
appalling.

“Granting a licence to kill to security forces that have time and time
again demonstrated their brutality and acted above the law sends out a clear
and dangerous message that they can continue to use lethal force with
impunity,” Amnesty Middle East director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said.

Over the last few weeks, the Morsi regime has encouraged the Brotherhood
and other supporters to attack demonstrators. Egypt’s public prosecutor
announced that civilians would be allowed to apprehend those suspected of
“thuggery” and hand them over to police.

“In December 2012, the president’s supporters apprehended, beat,
interrogated and detained dozens of individuals they accused of violence
before handing them over the Public Prosecution,” the report said.

At the same time, parliament was drafting what Amnesty called
“repressive legislation” against dissidents. A bill in the Shura Council
would allow the use of water cannons, tear gas and batons against peaceful
protesters.

“It is time for President Morsi to live up to his countless promises to
be a president to all Egyptians,” Sahraoui said. “It is the duty of the
Egyptian president and government to prevent incitement to violence and to
protect all protesters, regardless of their views and political
affiliation.”

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