UN urges probe into Egypt protest killings

The UN human rights chief called for an independent probe into the killing of demonstrators by Egypt`s military and security forces.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2011, 18:53 PM IST

Geneva: The UN human rights chief called
on Wednesday for an independent probe into the killing of
demonstrators by Egypt`s military and security forces.

"I urge the Egyptian authorities to end the clearly
excessive use of force against protesters in Tahrir Square and
elsewhere in the country, including the apparent improper use
of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition," said Navi
Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Some of the images coming out of Tahrir, including the
brutal beating of already subdued protesters, are deeply
shocking, as are the reports of unarmed protesters being shot
in the head," she said.

"There should be a prompt, impartial and independent
investigation, and accountability for those found responsible
for the abuses that have taken place should be ensured," the
UN rights chief added.

Pillay also castigated the military and security forces
for their actions which "simply served to inflame the
situation," instead of calming the crowds.

Thousands of people rallied again Wednesday in Tahrir
Square demanding an end to military rule, despite a promise by
Egypt`s interim leader to transfer power to an elected
president by mid-2012.

According to the health ministry, 31 people have been
killed since Saturday -- 28 in Tahrir -- when the security
forces first resorted to tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot
in a bid to break up the demonstrations.

Pillay reiterated her concerns at attempts by the
authorities to curb civil society activities.

It is "imperative that the Egyptian authorities ensure
the respect of freedom of expression, assembly and
association, and of the press" during the electoral process,
she stressed.

"The Egyptian authorities have an obligation to provide
protection for all and ensure a peaceful and safe environment
in the lead-up to next week`s crucial elections," the UN High
Commissioner said.

"The people of Egypt deserve to exercise their right to
vote in the country`s first elections since the departure of
former president Mubarak in a violence-free environment," she

The latest mass protests resulted in the resignation of
the cabinet on Monday, just a week before crucial legislative
polls, the first since Hosni Mubarak was ousted.