Egypt: New Regime, Some Old Abuses

Nearly a month after Egyptian demonstrators first took to the streets to demand political change, we’re only now finding out about some of the actions taken by the government to fight back.

Amnesty International received reports that some members of the Egyptian security forces have intimidated victims and their families following the overthrow of President Mubarak to prevent them seeking justice and making complaints about the forces’ actions during the unrest. This is the kind of behavior that was closely identified with the Mubarak regime: Ending impunity is essential for Egypt to move forward toward a just regime.

In addition, Amnesty International researchers reported this week that Egyptian prison guards in watchtowers shot dead scores of inmates and a visitor during unrest beginning Jan. 29 at a prison near Cairo.

As many as 43 inmates were killed in the action, inmates at the al-Qatta al-Gadeed Prison told Amnesty researchers.  Another 81 inmates were injured in incidents at the prison.

The report follows on the heels of information that recently released detainees in Egypt told Amnesty International that members of the armed forces used beatings, whipping and other forms of torture and other ill-treatment to intimidate protesters and to obtain information about plans for the protests.

Amnesty International is urging authorities to immediately issue clear instructions to all security forces and members of the army that torture or other ill-treatment of detainees will not be tolerated, and that those responsible for these abuses will be held to account.

Likewise, Amnesty International insists that authorities at the al-Qatta al-Gadeed prison stop the use of lethal force against inmates and allow all those injured to receive medical treatment immediately.

While President Mubarak has stepped down, Amnesty has joined with Egyptian human rights defenders in urging the new leadership to take decisive and immediate action to ensure that the country continues on its road to greater human rights.  Ending the killing, torture and ill treatment of prisoners is a vital step in this process.

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