[JURIST] A commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups have accused former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] and the police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt, according to a local newspaper [Al-Ahram report, in Arabic] on Wednesday. The joint commission has submitted their report to Egypt’s top prosecutor for further investigation. The Supreme Military Council of Egypt, which took over after Mubarak’s resignation, has instructed Egypt’s top prosecutor to investigate the death of protesters [Ria Novosti report] during the three weeks of demonstrations in Egypt. Following the demonstrations, Egypt’s chief prosecutor requested last month that Foreign Ministry officials take steps to freeze any foreign assets [JURIST report] belonging to former president Mubarak and his family.
Egypt has been heavily criticized by rights groups and international organizations for its handling of protesters. In February, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported new evidence that the Supreme Military Council of Egypt had been torturing protester-detainees [JURIST report]. Through various detainee accounts, AI stated that individuals were tortured “to intimidate protesters and to obtain information about plans for the protests.” Also in February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that the Egyptian military was improperly detaining protesters and allowing prisoner abuse [JURIST report]. The report calculated at least 119 arbitrary detentions and five incidents of torture, providing detainee accounts. HRW contends that the military was targeting human rights activists, protesters and journalists. In January, UN officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay [official websites], urged the Egyptian government to exercise restraint [JURIST report] and respect the rights of protesters. Pillay acknowledged reports of tactics including rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, water cannons and batons, and called on the government to investigate the reports of excessive force including civilian deaths.