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HRW urges end to torture, military trials of citizens in Egypt

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday called on the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to end torture, investigate all cases of abuse [press release] against peaceful demonstrators and stop prosecuting civilians before military tribunals. HRW went on to describe witness accounts of Egyptian soldiers and others in civilian clothing attacking demonstrators, finding that "[t]he Supreme Military Council has been ignoring credible reports of arbitrary arrest and torture, ... [t]here can be no break from the abuses of the past while security forces — including military personnel — abuse people with impunity." Egypt's military council has been running the country since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was forced out and has indicated a referendum will be held March 19 on constitutional reforms proposed [JURIST reports] by a committee of legal experts.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] has vociferously decried the use of violence against protesters [JURIST report] in recent months as protests have spread across the Middle East and North Africa [BBC backgrounder]. Earlier this month, Pillay condemned the response by Middle Eastern governments [JURIST report] to peaceful protests during her opening remarks at the UN Human Rights Council, urging the international community to take a strong stance against violence against protesters. In February, Pillay called on the Libyan government and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile] directly to stop the violence directed at protesters [JURIST report] within that nation. Also in February, Pillay said that the Libyan government's response to recent protests may amount to crimes against humanity [JURIST report].

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