Egypt: No investigations after 1,300 protesters have been killed

Human Rights Watch: Egypt’s authorities have yet to announce any move to investigate security force killings of protesters on October 6, 2013. Almost four weeks after police used lethal force to break up protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, the authorities have not said they have questioned, or intend to question, security forces about their use of firearms that day.

The clashes left 57 people dead throughout Egypt, according to the Health Ministry, with no police deaths reported.

“In dealing with protest after protest, Egyptian security forces escalate quickly and without warning to live ammunition, with deadly results,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Thirteen hundred people have died since July. What will it take for the authorities to rein in security forces or even set up a fact-finding committee into their use of deadly force?”

Judicial authorities have held security services to account in only one case since the military removed President Mohamed Morsy from power in early July, setting off a wave of protests by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. On October 22, Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat ordered the pretrial detention of four police officers for the deaths of 37 detainees they were transporting to Abu Zaabal prison on August 18. He referred them for trial on charges of “negligence and involuntary manslaughter” for shooting tear gas into the locked van. The detainees suffocated. The trial of the police officers opened on October 29.

“Egypt showed in the case of the police officers who fired teargas into a truck full of detainees that it is capable of holding security forces accountable,” Stork said. “It should do the same when police officers open fire on largely peaceful demonstrators.”

Throughout the past three months, in spite of over 1,300 people killed during demonstrations, the authorities have not established a fact-finding committee or attempted to rein in security services.

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