(New York) – Human Rights Watch today issued a clarification about the statements of a witness cited in the August 12, 2014 report, “All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt.” The clarification concerns the time of day when the witness, Maged Atef, said he witnessed the shooting of a police officer in Rab’a square on August 14, 2013.
As noted in the report, Human Rights Watch interviewed Atef twice: August 17, 2013 by phone and September 4 in person. Human Rights Watch listed in the report the times Atef recollected that the event had taken place in each of his interviews, at 1-2 p.m. in his August interview and at 11-11:30 a.m. in his September 4 interview. During his September 4 interview, he indicated that he was uncertain of the exact time, but he later sent an email confirming the time as 2:10 p.m.
Human Rights Watch also cited an interview with Nasser Amin, lead author of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) report on Rab’a, who said that Atef, in his interview with the NCHR, had stated that he saw the police officer shot at around 11 a.m. Human Rights Watch shared this part of the report with Amin ahead of the release to ensure that he had been accurately quoted and Amin did not correct it. Because of these discrepancies and lack of additional evidence, Human Rights Watch stated in its report that it “could not corroborate Atef’s account.”
Page 40 of the report has been revised to make clear the inability only to corroborate the timing of the incident and to eliminate any suggestion that Human Rights Watch did not find Atef’s statements credible. On the contrary, Human Rights Watch found Atef’s statement to be an important source of evidence that some protesters fired on security officers. The language now reads: “Human Rights Watch cannot establish precisely when the shooting took place.”