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Amnesty International Demands Egypt Violence Inquiry

Supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi protest in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 9, 2013.
An Amnesty International official says respect for human rights can be a critical element in addressing Egypt’s political crisis.

Geoffrey Mock, the Egypt country specialist for Amnesty International, says a first step is to hold the country’s security agencies accountable for their actions.

“We have to restore trust,” said Mock. “The country is very polarized now and the way to move forward is through an independent and public and impartial investigation of all these killings, and holding those accountable for any abuses that this investigation finds.”

The rights group has demanded an independent inquiry into the death of more than 50 protesters following the ouster last week of democratically-elected president Mohammed Morsi.

Some analysts contend that the strong public support the military enjoyed over the years has been weakened by its decision to topple Morsi and place him under house arrest after a year in office.

Mock says both former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Morsi did not implement measures that would hold the security agencies accountable for their actions over the years.

“Everyone’s human rights record was marred by a culture of impunity in, which police and security officials could do human rights abuses without being held accountable,” said Mock.

He says Egypt’s interim leadership also needs to build trust among the people as part of an effort to resolve the crisis.

“The way forward includes using a single standard [for] everyone and holding people accountable when they violate both Egyptian law and international human rights laws,” Mock said. “By holding a single standard, this is where you build trust [among] people who are alienated from the political process, and tell people it is worth for them to be involved in it.”

Morsi supporters and members from the Muslim Brotherhood have been protesting his ouster and have rejected plans for new elections. They vowed to continue their demonstrations to demand the former president’s release and his restoration as head of state.

“It’s clear that without that trust that the human rights would be respected, that they would not rejoin the political process,” said Mock. “But they have to understand that when they were in power, their record itself was marred by human rights abuses, and if they are going to want accountability for the 51 people that were killed at the protest the other day, they need to ensure that their side is also held accountable.”
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