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Egypt military allowing prisoner abuses: HRW

The Egyptian military is improperly detaining protesters and allowing prisoner abuse [press release], including torture, according to a Wednesday report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. HRW, in conjunction with Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters (FDP) [advocacy website, in Arabic], has calculated at least 119 arbitrary detentions and five incidents of torture, providing detainee accounts [text]. The organizations contend that the military is targeting human rights activists, protesters and journalists:

Military police arrested at least 37 human rights defenders and activists since January 31 and held them from periods ranging from 12 to 48 hours. On the afternoon of February 3, military police, accompanied by a uniformed policeman and plainclothes security officers, raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), a human rights organization, and arrested 28 Egyptian and international human rights researchers, lawyers, and journalists. The HMLC also houses the FDP, which provides legal support to arrested protesters and documents the violations against them.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned the arrests [HMLC press release] from the Hisham Mubarak Center for Law [advocacy website, in Arabic] has called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release lawyers, journalists and human rights activists [JURIST report] who have been arrested. Pillay also suggested that the violence against protesters [JURIST report] had been planned, and urged the government to investigate. On January 29, the military took over policing duties from the Ministry of the Interior [official website], whose forces were also accused of arbitrary arrests and abuse. The military promised to not use force against protesters [AP report], a sign many took as the end of military support for President Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] military support. A senior member of the the Muslim Brotherhood [official website] told Reuters [report] that they fear a military coup. Various media outlets expect President Hosni Mubarak will resign later Thursday.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman [Al Jazeera profile] stated Tuesday that President Mubarak approved the formation of a committee to oversee changes [JURIST report] to Egypt's constitution [text]. Egypt's government has reached out to various opposition leaders [JURIST report] since demonstrations erupted in the country, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and largest Islamic political group in the world and currently banned from Egypt. Cooperation in the constitutional review, the Brotherhood said, will only continue if the current regime continues to meet other demands. These demands include the removal of President Mubarak and the repeal of emergency laws that have been in place for more than thirty years.

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