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].