News / Africa

UN Human Rights Chief Denounces Migrant Killings by Egyptian Forces

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Schlein

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says migrants often lose their lives when traveling in over-crowded boats or trying to cross remote borders. But what is happening in Egypt, she says, is different and deplorable.

Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, says the high commissioner knows of no other country where government forces appear to have deliberately killed so many unarmed migrants and asylum seekers.

"It is a deplorable state of affairs, and the sheer number of victims suggests that at least some Egyptian security officials have been operating a shoot-to-kill policy," Colville said. "It is unlikely that so many killings would occur otherwise. Sixty killings can hardly be an accident."  

Colville says the killing of migrants began in the summer of 2007 after Egypt and Israel agreed to toughen border controls in the Sinai. He says the great majority of those killed are migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, in particular from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Nine fatal migrant shootings have been reported the Sinai during the first two months of this year.

Colville says at least 33 people were reported killed in the Sinai between July 2007 and 2008. After a six-month lull, he says the killings began again, with at least 19 more would-be migrants or refugees reportedly shot dead between May and December 2009.

"The victims include several women and at least one child. There are reports of other children being wounded," Colville said. "The fact that these shootings stopped for six months, and then resumed, strongly suggests that the killings follow a pattern that is not random."

Colville says all the killings have taken place on the Egyptian side of the border.

"We have not seen any reports of migrants actually being shot on the Israeli side. So those who crossed are not being shot," Colville added. "And, that I think is particularly unusual at this situation. ... When migrants unfortunately meet a violent death at a border, it is usually incoming. It is usually when they are on the way in somewhere, they are either stepping on mines or there is some incident. It is very rare that they are killed trying to leave somewhere."  

Colville says High Commissioner Pillay has been in contact with Egyptian officials about this issue on several occasions. He says she is calling for the Egyptian government to immediately order its security forces to use firearms only in strict compliance with international standards.

Pillay is urging Egypt to launch an independent and credible inquiry into the killings of so many individuals by state security forces during the past two-and-one-half years.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid