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Egyptians urged to restore rule of law, ensure protection of human rights

NEW YORK – A top United Nations official today urged all parties in Egypt to ensure calm and the protection of human rights during this “delicate” period, stressing the need for dialogue to peacefully re-establish the rule of law and civilian authority.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian military, which had earlier in the week given the opposing parties 48 hours to resolve their differences, deposed President Mohamed Morsy, suspended the Constitution and paved they way for an interim Government, amid massive protests.

Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced support for all Egyptians striving for a state that would safeguard their human rights and freedoms, and guarantee respect for rule of law, said a news release issued by her office (OHCHR).

“The massive protests and demonstrations over the past few weeks were a very clear indication that Egyptians want their fundamental rights to be honoured,” said Ms. Pillay.

“I hope that the rule of law and a system of government that respects the human rights of all Egyptians – men and women – can be quickly re-established,” she said. “The country has so far failed to seize the opportunity to respond to the aspirations of all its citizens and move towards a truly tolerant and inclusive society, based on human rights norms and the rule of law. A concerted effort is needed by all parties to establish sound political and legal institutions.”

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests similar to those seen in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa as part of the “Arab Spring.”

Ms. Pillay emphasized that internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, including freedoms of speech and assembly, need to be upheld during this “delicate” period of transition.

“I urge all parts of Egyptian society to exercise these rights in a peaceful manner, so as to avoid any further loss of life. I also urge a major effort by all political parties, and the authorities, to deter and punish any acts of vengeance.”

The High Commissioner said she is concerned by reports of widespread detention of leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“There should be no more violence, no arbitrary detention, no illegal acts of retribution. Serious steps should also be taken to halt, and investigate, the appalling – and at times seemingly organized – sexual violence targeting women protestors,” she said.

Ms. Pillay called on the interim authorities, and all political parties and social groups, “to respond to the expectations of the Egyptian people through the initiation of a meaningful and truly inclusive dialogue, involving all parts of society, in order to achieve reconciliation and reinforce democratic principles and the rule of law, under civilian authorities.”

She reaffirmed OHCHR’s readiness to assist the Egyptian people in the transitional process and in particular in efforts by future administrations to promote a society based on principles of democracy and social justice, guided by internationally recognized human rights and freedoms.

“Egyptians deserve to live in a society run by institutions that ensure their rights are respected,” she said. “I urge everyone to seize this new opportunity to fulfil the country’s potential to become a fully functioning and prosperous democracy, without further destabilizing upheavals.”

In recent days, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to the people of Egypt to exercise restraint and pursue inclusive dialogue, while expressing serious concern about “military interference” in the political crisis gripping the country.

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