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Egyptian human rights group says police abuses continue

January 24, 2013|By Reem Abdellatif

CAIRO — An Egyptian human rights groups reported this week that torture and police brutality, which helped spark a national uprising two years ago, have continued under the new Islamist-led government.

Over the course of 2011 and 2012, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) documented more than 20 extrajudicial killings as a result of torture or "unnecessary" use of firearms by police forces, the group said in a report released ahead of the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 revolt that eventually toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

"It is clear from the data gathered that police continue to deploy excessive violence and torture systematically as it was during the Mubarak regime," the rights group said.

From June to November 2012, the human rights group said, it documented through media reports 10 deaths in prisons and police stations in which torture was "suspected." The group confirmed that three such cases occurred in the first four months after President Mohamed Morsi's inauguration on June 30.

The group found that at times over the past two years systematic violence became "worse" than before the 2011 uprising.

"Although the EIPR has documented only a sample of the violations committed by police against citizens daily, they unmistakably indicate a pattern of the use of force and police confidence that they operate in an environment devoid of accountability," the report stated.

As Egypt continues to find its way after the revolution, the government has gone through different interior ministers who promised drastic police reform and new ways for security forces to reach out to the public. EIPR says little has changed.

"There has also been no thoroughgoing change, or even cosmetic improvement, in the police apparatus,” the report said. “There has also been no notable change to rules regulating the use of force and firearms, and no amendments to the statutory framework governing police work.”

Just last week, clashes erupted between civilians and security forces in the urban district of Shubra al-Kheima, near downtown Cairo, after a police officer allegedly shot and killed a man by mistake. Residents of the district reportedly attacked the police station, accusing the officer of murder.

The group has called on the new government to stop immunizing police officers and security officials from trial. They have also suggested that the state establish an independent commission to investigate all cases of death and injury committed against civilians by police officers. Egypt's new government has not yet responded to the human rights group's suggestions.

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