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UN human rights office alarmed at sharp, violent escalation of Egypt’s political crisis

Clashes with policemen have become a regular scene in downtown Cairo.
Amr Emam/IRIN
Clashes with policemen have become a regular scene in downtown Cairo.

UN human rights office alarmed at sharp, violent escalation of Egypt’s political crisis

The United Nations human rights office said today it is alarmed at the sharp escalation of the political crisis in Egypt and deplored the fact that dozens of people have reportedly been killed or wounded amid the ouster of President Mohamed Morsy last week.

On Friday alone, more than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in various clashes across the country, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Yesterday, at least 51 people were reportedly killed and some 300 injured outside the Republican Guard compound.

“We remind the Egyptian authorities that any incidents resulting in deaths and injuries require prompt, thorough and transparent investigation and those found to be guilty of wrong doing should be brought to justice,” said OHCHR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly.

Welcoming the announcement by the interim head of State that an investigation into yesterday’s tragic incident has been ordered, Ms. Pouilly told reporters in Geneva that any such probe should be carried out by an independent and impartial body and its findings should be made public.

The Egyptian military deposed Mr. Morsy on 3 July, suspended the Constitution and paved they way for an interim Government. Since then, Mr. Morsy’s foes and supporters have continued to face off in huge demonstrations, with security forces and police adding to the deepening chaos.

“We call on all sides to refrain from resorting to violence and on protesters to maintain the peaceful nature of their demonstrations,” said Ms. Pouilly. “We also call on the military and law enforcement officials to show utmost restraint and make sure that they comply at all times with international human rights obligations and international standards on policing […]”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay have spoken out several times on the need for all parties in Egypt – which has been undergoing a democratic transition since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago – to exercise restraint, protect human rights and resort to dialogue to peacefully resolve differences.

Yesterday the interim authority announced plans for the formation of a panel to amend the Constitution, the holding of a referendum on proposed constitutional changes, and the holding of parliamentary elections. The plans have been rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood, the party to which Mr. Morsy belongs.

“We urge all parties to engage in a constructive dialogue and in a broad-based and inclusive process to move the country forward,” Ms. Pouilly stated, noting that OHCHR will continue to closely follow developments.

“We reaffirm our readiness to assist the Egyptian people in all efforts to overcome the crisis and move towards strengthening human rights and building a legislative and institutional framework ensuring democracy and the rule of law,” she added.