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Human rights 'cornerstone' of Egyptian police: Minister

Egypt's interior ministry says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be distributed among security personnel in a bid to enhance police respect for 'human rights values'

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 Dec 2014
Riot police
Riot police take their positions as protesters and activists called for demonstrations on the third anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud violent clashes in central Cairo November 19, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's interior ministry will hand copies of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the country's policemen in a bid to reassert "police respect for human rights and the safeguarding of dignity."

The move to promote the global human rights document coincides with the Human Rights Day, marked around the world 10 December.

"Respecting and preserving these rights is the basic building block of the ministry's current security polices," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was quoted as saying by state-run news agency MENA.

MENA added that the "unprecedented" step stems from the "new policy and trends" of Egypt's security apparatus that "aims to uphold the values and concepts of human rights."

Egyptian security forces have long been reviled for human rights abuses and violence. Police brutality helped ignite the 2011 revolt that swept long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. Overhauling the notorious security apparatus has been a longstanding demand among activists.

But since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, the police have been lionised by local media and the press as the guardians of the nation in the "war against terrorism," with Islamists the subject of a relentless state crackdown.  

Late last week, Al-Watan daily said in an exclusive report that 90 people have died at police stations in Cairo and Giza over the past 11 months, citing medical data from the country's official forensic body.

Head of the Forensic Authority Hisham Abdel Hamid acknowledged that at least two of the deaths were caused by torture, while attributing the rest of the cases to "health problems and poor ventilation" at places of detention.

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