Amnesty International is urging Egypt to hold police and military personnel responsible for abuses against protesters and to reform those institutions to prevent future violations. The human rights group has issued two reports on violations in Egypt during last year’s Arab Spring uprising.
VOA’s Susan Yackee got details from Amnesty International USA Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel. Below please find select highlights of her responses. You can listen to a fuller version of the interview by clicking on the sound file below.
Live ammunition, torture, sexual assault
We found really distressing patterns of human rights abuses, including use of live ammunition on demonstrators, torture and sexual assault of people detained as a result of their participation in protests. We also documented that these abuses continued even after the uprisings were concluded, that when people came back to the streets and raised their voices against the government through the transition, that brutal methods have been used to suppress them.
Morsi must act
If [President Mohamed Morsi] is as committed as he says he is to bringing Egypt forward, establishing the rule of law, and respect for human rights, what needs to happen are full, impartial and independent investigations into these allegations and a committed decision by the government to hold those responsible accountable. Until the people of Egypt see that, these people will be at large and these crimes will go unpunished. That will corrode the rule of law going forward in Egypt.
Peaceful protests v. harsh methods
Most of the protests were peaceful. There were some incidents where rocks were thrown, but if you look at the use of force and the pervasive abuses by both the police and the military documented by these reports, there is no comparison. This is not a case of two equivalent forces going head to head. It’s a case of very peaceful protests and very harsh methods being used in response.
Listen to a fuller version of our interview with Suzanne Nossel (2:12):
Susan Yackee is anchor of VOA's International Edition radio show. She has been a reporter in the Washington area for more than 35 years and regularly interviews newsmakers and analysts in DC and around the world. Susan works in television, radio and social media.