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Egypt: ‘Shootouts’ Disguise Apparent Extrajudicial Executions

Egyptian security forces engaged in an extended campaign of extrajudicial killings of detainees, routinely masked as shootouts with alleged terrorists, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. The report details what it alleges are a pattern of extrajudicial assassinations between 2015 and last year, a period in which the Egyptian interior ministry said publicly that 755 people were killed in alleged exchanges of fire with security forces, while naming just 141. The ministry’s statements were sometimes accompanied by photos showing bodies in remote desert locations lying next to firearms that the Egyptian authorities claimed were used in the attack. However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that the government rarely provided substantive information about the alleged shootouts. For its new report, the rights organisation analysed nine of the incidents the Egyptian government claimed were shootouts, in which 75 alleged militants were killed. It interviewed relatives of 14 of the named individuals killed and conducted forensic analysis of pictures and video of the killings made available by the authorities. The rights group said that the cases its researchers analysed led them to conclude that the individuals killed “at the moment of their deaths apparently posed no life-threatening danger to security forces or others, and so amounted to deliberate and unlawful killings”.