x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Egypt's military urged to halt repressive policies

Activists say Egypt¿s government is in denial over extensive use of torture and repression that took place in recent years.

CAIRO //Human Rights Watch yesterday called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt to finish dismantling the security apparatus of the Mubarak regime to allow for free elections this year.

Philip Roth, the group's executive director, said that the Ministry of Interior was still "in denial" over the extensive use of torture and repression that took place in recent years.

A deputy minister argued that the issue was isolated in an interview with Human Rights Watch.

The government needed to conduct an investigation into former officials in security organisations to ensure that those who engaged in inhumane acts were not given government jobs, he said.

Laws that prohibited criticism of the military and allow the use of military tribunals were obstacles for Egypt's transition to a freer country and could hinder political debate, Human Rights Watch said.

"At this critical period of transition, the military should make a clear break with the repressive policies of the past, and this means ending military trials, repealing the emergency law, and laws that restrict freedoms," the group said in a statement.

"Egypt has started to try some former officials, but unbroken impunity for the systematic torture of Egyptians over the past decade will only invite reoccurrence of abuse."

Of 39 general in the old security organisations, 11 were appointed to positions in the new Egyptian National Security Agency, according to the group.

Mr Roth said without a proper investigation, officials responsible for torture and silencing of dissidents could return to powerful positions.

Protesters gathered across Egypt on Monday to commemorate Khaled Said, the 28-year-old computer programmer who, his family says, was beaten to death by police in Alexandria, but also to call upon the military government to cease military tribunals and investigate recent cases of alleged police abuse.

Said's name became a rallying cry for youth groups in the months leading up to the protests that toppled the Mubarak regime.

bhope@thenational.ae