As police, protesters clash in Egypt, UN rights chief urges end to excessive use of force

27 January 2015

“Deeply disturbed” by the deaths resulting from recent clashes between security forces and protesters in Egypt, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, has urged for an end to the excessive use of force, his spokesperson said today.

According to the UN Office for the High Commissioner (OHCHR), at least 20 people had been killed in the Cairo suburb of Matariya, in Alexandria and in downtown Cairo during protests since last Friday commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 2011 popular protests that had led to the ouster of then-President Hosni Mubarak.

The death of a leading female activist, Shaimaa Al Sabagh, had been captured on video and in photographs posted on the Internet, after she had apparently been shot from behind during a peaceful protest in central Cairo, added OHCHR.

“I have in the past urged the Egyptian authorities to take urgent measures to ensure that any excessive use of force by security personnel is promptly investigated, alleged perpetrators are put on trial and victims have access to justice and compensation,” said spokesperson Rupert Colville, reading out a statement from the High Commissioner at a briefing in Geneva today.

“Hundreds of people had died during protests against successive governments since January 2011, and there has been very little in the way of accountability,” he underscored.

The High Commissioner also said that all those who had been detained for protesting peacefully had to be released.

“The long-term stability of Egypt is only possible if fundamental human rights are respected,” Mr. Colville said. “Otherwise, people's grievances will fester and feelings of injustice will grow, creating fertile ground for further social and political unrest.”

He went on to say that “it is in the interests of all sides to engage in meaningful dialogue and to make efforts to find peaceful solutions to Egypt's many problems.”

High Commissioner Zeid also condemned the murder of two policemen who had been shot at a checkpoint near the Pyramids over the weekend, and the death of a security officer during a clash between protesters and security forces on the same day.


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