We thank the High Commissioner for her statement. We share her concerns today on arbitrary detention, unfair trial and restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Egypt. The situation has grown increasingly dire over the past eight months, as security forces continue to use excessive lethal force against protesters. Authorities arrest or harass persons solely for exercising the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, as well as solely for membership in the Muslim Brotherhood. Arrests of peaceful protesters and journalists have not been matched by any efforts to hold accountable security officials responsible for ordering or carrying out attacks that have killed well over a thousand persons since July 3, 2013.
The Fact-Finding Commission appointed to investigate these incidents of mass killings does not appear to have the authority to compel officials or government bodies to provide evidence, and its terms of reference do not include the important step of making its findings and recommendations public. Separately, the March 5 report by Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights was based on limited access to evidence and information from officials but concluded that security forces used excessive force in the August 14 dispersal of the Rabaa protest, killing more than 600 protesters in that incident alone. The National Council for Human Rights however has no follow-up or enforcement mechanism.
The Human Rights Council should condemn the repeated excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Egyptian security forces against demonstrators, call on Egypt to meet its obligation to investigate and prosecute unlawful behavior by security forces, release those arrested solely for peacefully exercising their rights to free assembly, association, and expression, amend the law issued in November which severely restricts public protests in violation of international standards, and report to the Council at its next regular session on the steps it has taken to address these serious concerns.
We also welcome the OHCHR's commitment to contribute to the Secretary-General's "Rights Up Front" plan of action which has guided the UN engagement in South Sudan since December 2013. Both pro and anti-government armed forces have been committing a range of serious violations of international humanitarian law that may amount to war crimes, including targeting and killing civilians and destroying and looting civilian property.
Documenting violations and ensuring accountability are key components on the Rights Up Front strategy. A thorough and impartial investigation into human rights abuses in South Sudan is necessary to secure justice for victims and to respond to widespread anger. The UNMiss interim report on human rights abuses released on 21 February is a positive step. We encourage OHCHR to provide more frequent periodic, public updates on the human rights situation on South Sudan. The African Union (AU) should ensure that its Commission of Inquiry respects international standards of independence and impartiality and that its report is made public. We regret that the start of the AU’s promised investigation is already long overdue as accountability is urgently needed, both to prevent further abuses and as a crucial step in the path to lasting peace.