Egyptian security forces' failure to prevent violence seen as 'suspicious'

  • ‘Our evidence raises questions as to whether the failure to protect all protesters … is the result of a deliberate policy by the security apparatus’ - Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
  • Amnesty experts in Cairo available for interview

The Egyptian police and security forces are failing to protect protesters and bystanders from violence, Amnesty International said today, on the brink of the army’s threatened intervention to resolve the crisis. Read our background to the unrest

According to evidence gathered by Amnesty researchers currently in Egypt, the security forces have failed to intervene or have been despatched too late to stop violence during clashes between opponents and supporters of President Morsi. Since last Thursday more than 30 people have already been killed in the violence.

Yesterday’s clashes in several locations in Greater Cairo left 18 people dead and 600 injured, according to official statistics, and continued for hours before the army was deployed. According to eyewitnesses, intermittent clashes around Cairo University between supporters of the President and unidentified attackers took place throughout the day, intensifying following the President’s late-evening speech. Evidence points to the use of live ammunition.

Ahead of the protests, the Interior Ministry, which holds key responsibility for the security forces, made contradictory statements. According to media reports it announced that it would not protect buildings belonging to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, and would only intervene where public buildings were threatened. While the Ministry announced it would remain impartial and protect all citizens, it expressed its support of the army ultimatum calling on political parties to resolve the crisis, widely seen as a snub to President Morsi. Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior has removed the head of security for the city of Giza for his inadequate response to the clashes.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“The security forces should have been more than ready to prevent and stop the kinds of deadly clashes that we’ve seen in the past three days.

“This suspicious failure to prevent loss of life is a callous failure of their duty to protect lives and uphold human rights.

“Our evidence raises questions as to whether the failure to protect all protesters, regardless of their political affiliation, is the result of a deliberate policy by the security apparatus.

“It’s imperative that the security forces act now act professionally and take seriously their responsibility to ensure the safety of all Egyptians.”

Amnesty experts Diana Eltahawy and Mohamed Emissary are available for interview from Cairo. To arrange an interview with either, please contact them direct:

Diana Eltahawy: 07778 472100 (UK mobile), 00 20 1060 901 438 (Egypt mobile)

Mohamed Elmessiry: 07961 421568 (UK mobile), 00 20 1000 000 7872 (Egypt mobile)

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