Thirteen Egyptian human rights organizations on Wednesday alleged [statement, in Arabic] that Egypt's Ministry of Interior [official website, in Arabic] is responsible for police brutality and the deaths of protesters that have occurred since January 25. The report said the recent crimes occurred in prisons, police stations, detention centers and at public demonstrations, resulting in a death toll of 53 Palestinian civilians. The report expressed disappointment that President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile] has not announced plans to investigate the officers and ministry staff. The rights groups also said that they believe the president should be held responsible for the abuses:
We believe that the President is subject to personal criminal responsibility for these crimes in accordance with the principle of chain of command in light of his position as head of the Supreme Council for the police. Proceeding from this responsibility it is imperative to take immediate action to stop these crimes and to hold those responsible for their commission.The rights groups created a 10-point initiative to combat the crimes. The plan includes requests the dismissal of the Interior Minister, withdrawal of the demonstration draft law and amendments to the Penal Code and Police Act.
Egypt has been plagued by continuing protests and violence since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Last week the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized [JURIST report] Egypt's draft law on demonstrations for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly. The draft law requires that organizers inform authorities about protest plans in advance and allows the interior ministry the right to reject demonstrations. In late January the UN High Commission for Human Rights voiced concern [JURIST report] over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming form ongoing protest throughout the country. On January 28, 2013 President Mohamed Morsi declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in an attempt to quell growing unrest and violent political protests in several cities.