Egypt: Still 'Mountain to climb' to achieve justice for protesters-New report
123-page report says victims being failed in aftermath
In a major report on the spring uprising in Egypt, Amnesty International has today (18 May) called on the Egyptian authorities to provide justice to all of the victims of violent repression during the mass anti-government protests.
Amnesty’s comprehensive 123-page report - Egypt rises: killings, detentions and torture in the ‘25 January Revolution’ (pdf) - presents detailed accounts of how the Egyptian security forces used excessive force against protestors, focusing in particular on 93 individuals killed or injured between 25 January and 7 March. In all at least 840 people were killed and over 6,000 people injured, some of them permanently.
The report comes two days ahead of the scheduled trial of Egypt’s former Interior Minister Habib El Adly on charges arising from the killings of protesters.
The report also documents how both the army and the notorious State Security Investigations service tortured detained protestors, whipping them, beating them with plastic cables and giving them electric shocks. It also examines how at least 189 prisoners were killed or injured by the security forces, including by guards firing at them from prison watchtowers, and Amnesty is calling for an investigation into this.
Amnesty has passed its findings to Egypt’s Public Prosecutor to support investigations into those responsible for human rights violations.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen, who was part of an Amnesty research delegation to Egypt last month, said:
"When I was in Egypt last month people were telling me that after all the suffering and sacrifice of the uprising there can be no going back to the old days.
"People want real change, they want justice and they want human rights.
"This comprehensive report makes it abundantly clear that there's still a mountain to climb in terms of achieving justice for the brave protestors of Egypt's uprising."
Amnesty’s report provides damning evidence of excessive force by security forces to try to disperse and suppress protests against former President Hosni Mubarak, showing flagrant disregard for life. Many protesters died as a result of shots to the upper body, including the head or chest, pointing to deliberate targeting of protesters posing no threat, or at the very least to reckless use of firearms. The coordinator of the field hospital in Tahrir Square told Amnesty delegates that he alone dealt with around 300 cases of shotgun wounds to the eyes, leading to loss of vision
The organisation said that while the Egyptian authorities have begun holding accountable some of those accused of responsibility for serious human rights violations, many victims of security forces' brutality are at risk of being excluded from efforts to deal with the legacy of the violence.
On 16 February, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik announced that relatives of those killed during protests would be awarded a monthly pension of 1,500 Egyptian pounds (£250) or a one-off payment of 50,000 Egyptian pounds (£5,000) if the victim had no dependants. But Amnesty said more must be done for victims of serious injury, including payment of their medical costs.
The Egyptian government's fact-finding commission into the protests published a summary of its report on 14 April, holding the former Minister of Interior responsible for the killings of protesters. Whilst Amnesty welcomed the commission's overall findings as well as its cooperation with the Public Prosecutor, it said the commission's remit was too limited. The commission did not publish a full list of those killed during the demonstrations or the circumstances of their deaths. Nor did it extensively investigate individual cases of arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment, including by the military.
Many detained in connection with the unrest were then tried by military courts, despite being civilians. Amnesty said that trials of civilians before military courts violate fundamental requirements of due process and fair trials, and that their continued use raises questions about the Egyptian military's commitment to establish the rule of law in Egypt.
- Download the report pdf)
- Find out more about unfolding human rights crisis in the Middle East and North Africa