GENEVA (27 January 2014) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Monday said she was gravely concerned about the escalating violence in Egypt in recent days that has led to scores of people being killed and injured. She called for a prompt investigation into the incidents that led to the regrettable loss of lives, and appealed on all sides to exercise restraint.
“After the recent reprehensible terrorist attacks led to the loss of life and injuries, at least 62 people were killed in Cairo on Saturday,” the High Commissioner said. “I call on all sides to renounce the use of violence. Security forces have a duty to respect the right to peaceful protest, and it is important that Egyptian authorities comply with their international obligation to ensure that all Egyptians can exercise their rights to free assembly and freedom of expression without fear of violence or arrest. Demonstrators must also ensure that their protests remain peaceful.”
The High Commissioner stressed that security forces in Egypt must at all times operate in line with international human rights laws and standards on the use of force, including the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which contain detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition.*
Pillay also condemned the violent attacks against police and security forces.
“The people of Egypt have the right to go about their lives without fear of violence,” she said.
“I call on the Egyptian authorities to carry out prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the killings, to make the findings public and to bring to justice those responsible in accordance with international human rights standards.”
The High Commissioner expressed concern about reports that numerous people have been arrested in connection with protests, stressing that those detained should either be promptly released or charged with a recognisable criminal offence and brought to justice in accordance with international standards.
*Principle 9 of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states that: “Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”
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