No senior official or security officer has been convicted or properly punished for killing or injuring protesters during Egypt’s revolution two years ago, said Amnesty International today, as it published a new report to coincide with the second anniversary of the start of Egypt’s “25 January Revolution”.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
“Two years after the uprising the security forces appear to be getting away with murder.
“President Morsi has repeatedly paid tribute to those who died during the ‘25 January Revolution’, yet little effective action has been taken to ensure those responsible face justice.
“By not ensuring the perpetrators are punished, President Morsi is doing little to distance himself from decades of abuses.”
The Amnesty report shows how the courts in Egypt continue to acquit senior and other security officials. In some cases, acquittals have been based on a lack of evidence or because the courts ruled that defendants had been exercising their right to self-defence, despite well-documented evidence that police used excessive force or lethal force when not strictly necessary.
According to relatives and lawyers interviewed by Amnesty, many acquittals and the failure of some cases to even reach court is due to shortcomings in the evidence-gathering process - including video material, medical and forensic reports, and ballistic evidence - which in many cases were not examined or even presented to the courts. Other essential information - like records of telephone communications between security officials, registries of deployed security forces and records of weapons and munitions provided to security forces - has not been obtained from the Ministry of Interior. Relatives complain that police officers were involved in the investigations, prompting fears that they might tamper with evidence or withhold information in order to absolve their colleagues and institutions from liability. Relatives also told Amnesty that some witnesses had faced intimidation.
Shortly after assuming power last June, President Mohamed Morsi established a fact-finding committee to examine the killing and wounding of protesters before he took office. He also appointed a new public prosecutor who promised to conduct fresh investigations and retrials of those acquitted of killing protestors if new evidence emerged.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui added:
“The creation of the Fact-Finding Committee was a good initial step forward but for it to be a truly positive development its report needs to be made public and gaps and shortcoming in investigations must be addressed. Victims and society as a whole have the right to the full truth.”
According to information gathered by Amnesty in Egypt, during the anti-Mubarak uprising security forces used tear gas, water cannon, shotguns, rubber bullets and live ammunition against protesters, in many cases when they were posing no threat to them.
Meanwhile, at least 12 people have died during protest violence since President Morsi took office last year. This includes ten people who died in clashes between supporters and opponents of President Morsi on the night of 5-6 December, when security forces failed to intervene and protect protesters from violence and assault.