National committee rejects HRW report

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemning the killing of protesters in Egypt in the aftermath of Mohamed Morsi’s ouster as possible crimes against humanity continues to receive widespread criticism in Egypt.

In a statement published by the state-owned Al-Ahram portal, the National Fact-Finding Committee assigned to investigate violent incidents following the June 30 protests that led to Morsi’s ouster, said HRW’s report would be read with objectivity and precision.

The committee particularly highlighted the importance of accounts from protesters who took part in major violent incidents, such as the Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins, adding that many of these individuals refused to cooperate with them in their own investigation and renewing their call for human rights organizations, families of victims, and the injured to share information and evidence with them, guaranteeing that all information will remain confidential.

However, the committee said HRW’s report is missing important violent incidents that are no less significant than those referenced, such as attacks on churches and against Christians, attacks on police stations and violence on university campuses.

Finally, the committee asserted that it is closer to the events, more objective, has a deeper understanding of the situation and is more concerned with not issuing prejudiced judgments prior to conducting all necessary research.

The committee was formed by presidential decree in December 2013 and headed by Fouad Abdel Moneim Riyad, a professor of international law who served on the International Criminal Tribunal in former Yugoslavia. While its formation was welcomed by human rights organizations, some expressed concerns about its structure, mandate and powers, especially with regards to the lack of representation of civil society in the committee, which is only comprised of judges and legal professionals. Although tasked with an investigation, the committee has not yet published a report of its own findings.

The Egyptian government also responded negatively to HRW’s report, calling on the organization to be more accurate and objective in describing the situation in Egypt. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement describing HRW as an organization that is used to acting as though it is beyond the law.

Similarly, the State Information Service (SIS) wrote in a statement that the report is a negative document, which they say is unsurprising given the orientation of HRW. The statement said the report did not reference the hundreds of deaths of security forces during the violence that occurred in July and August 2013.

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