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Rights group alleges new evidence of detainee abuse by Egypt military

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday released a report [text] asserting new evidence that the the Supreme Military Council of Egypt has been torturing protester-detainees. Through various detainee accounts, AI stated that individuals were tortured "to intimidate protesters and to obtain information about plans for the protests." In addition, protesters contend that they were told to confess that they were trained by the Israeli or Iranian governments. AI's director for the Middle East and North Africa Malcolm Smart stated, "The Egyptian military authorities have committed publicly to creating a climate of freedom and democracy after so many years of state repression. Now they must match their words with direct and immediate action." Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published similar concerns [JURIST report], specifically about the detention of journalists, human rights activists, and protesters. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] has also called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release lawyers, journalists and human rights activists [JURIST report] who have been arrested and suggested that violence against protesters [JURIST report] has been planned. The AI report demands immediate disclosure of the names and whereabouts of all detainees, and for either official charges to be drawn against them, or their prompt release.

Earlier this week the Supreme Council appointed a panel of judges [JURIST report] to amend Egypt's constitution [text] prior to public referendum. This decision was part of the transition plan put in place by ousted president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] before leaving office earlier this month. Last week the military pledged to lift the emergency laws [JURIST report] that have been in place since Mubarak assumed power. Prior to Mubarak's resignation, Egypt's government had reached out [JURIST report] to various opposition leaders in the wake of demonstrations that swept the country. Among those in the opposition that have been approached are the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and largest Islamic political group in the world. According to some commentators, the unrest in Egypt is closely related to the recent civil unrest in Tunisia [JURIST op-ed] that culminated last month with the resignation of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali [JURIST report].

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