Africa

Egypt under fire during UN Human Rights Council review

Egyptian security forces stand guard at Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, on 12 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption The United Nations Human Rights Council questioned Egypt's heavy-handed response to protests

Egypt's human rights record has been criticised during a session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

At a regular review process, which all member states undergo, the US and UK envoys to the UNHRC urged Egypt to free political prisoners and investigate alleged abuses by security forces.

Rights groups say Egypt's record has worsened since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011.

Egypt's deputy Foreign Minister Hesham Badr rejected the claims.

Mr Badr said the criticisms were based on "misconceptions" and that Egypt's government has made efforts to institute reforms.

The minister asked whether some delegations were "dealing with conditions in a country other than Egypt in which we live".

Keith Harper, US ambassador to the UNHRC, said Egypt had violated "freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association [and] deprived thousands of Egyptians of fair trial guarantees".

'Excessive force'

Some Egyptian human rights organisations refused to attend the hearing, fearing reprisals when they returned home.

The UNHRC says it will publish its findings and non-binding recommendations on Friday.

The review is Egypt's first since Mr Mubarak was forced out of office.

Human rights groups say since then there have been mass detentions of government opponents and the deaths of hundreds of protesters.

In 2013, Egypt's army chief ousted Mr Mubarak's successor President Mohammed Morsi.

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi there has been a crackdown on Mr Morsi's Islamist supporters with hundreds killed and imprisoned.

Mr Sisi also outlawed the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood and has suppressed media freedoms and public protests.

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