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El-Sisi should end 'rampant abuses': Amnesty and HRW

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International call on new Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to end 'rampant' human rights abuses and amend or drop the protest law

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Jun 2014

Egypt`s newly inaugurated president, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, has taken office amid a human rights crisis in the country, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Egypt: New Leader Faces Rights Crisis, the groups condemned the use of force to end a sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya by supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

According to the HRW, at least 1,400 people have been killed in protests and political violence since Morsi's ouster on 3 July 2013.

The most serious incident took place on 14 August 2013, when security forces dispersed sit-ins by Morsi supporters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo.

The statement also condemned the mass death sentences applied to supporters of the ousted president.

A criminal court in Minya recommended the death penalty for over 1,200 Morsi supporters in preliminary verdicts in two separate cases in March and April 2014.

“Now that President El-Sisi has formally taken the reins of power, he should put an end to these rampant abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The statement said El-Sisi should order the release of anyone held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

It also demanded that he either amends or drops the protest law which was passed in November 2013.

The law, which criminalises unauthorised demonstrations, provoked uproar among rights and political groups.

The detention of activists for violating the protest law has fuelled fears of an expanding crackdown on dissent, beyond a sustained campaign against Islamists since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi.

The statement also stressed that El-Sisi should order fair and legal investigations into violations by security forces, including the use of live bullets against protesters. It also stated that he should investigate the increasing number of reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees.

The deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW said: “If Egypt doesn’t carry out credible investigations into the illegal killings and torture, the mechanisms of the UN Human Rights Council should be used to pursue an international investigation.

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