Brotherhood to use HRW report to push for ICC action on Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood said Tuesday that it would push for legal action against the Egyptian authorities at the International Criminal Court

The Muslim Brotherhood said Tuesday that it would push for legal action against the Egyptian authorities at the International Criminal Court

CAIRO – The Muslim Brotherhood said Tuesday that it would push for legal action against the Egyptian authorities at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the release of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that accuses the government of carrying out the "premeditated" murder of hundreds of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi last summer.

"The [HRW] report will make our job much easier," Mohamed Soudan, leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Brotherhood's political wing, told Anadolu Agency by phone from London.

"Now we have an international legal basis before the United Nations, which has the right to file a lawsuit before the ICC based on the HRW report," Soudan, who is currently based in London, added.

The ICC recently turned down a case request lodged by the FJP, which was once headed by Morsi, against Egypt's interim authorities.

While the party accused authorities of committing "grave crimes" in Egypt since Morsi's ouster by the military last summer, the court said it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case because the plaintiff did not represent the Egyptian government, according to a court statement.

"We provided assistance to HRW researchers for their report and will continue to push for a case before the the ICC – sponsored by the U.N. – as soon as possible," Soudan said.

HRW, a prominent New York-based watchdog, has called for a U.N. inquiry into what it has described as the "massacre" by Egyptian security forces of at least 1150 pro-Morsi demonstrators – including at least 817 in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adiwiya Square alone – saying the killings likely constituted crimes against humanity.

Speaking at a press conference held to unveil the report on the one-year anniversary of the bloody Rabaa dispersal, HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the role of several top government officials, including then-defense minister – and current president – Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, in the "premeditated" killings.

The Brotherhood's London office said in a Tuesday statement that the HRW report "provided damning evidence showing that senior members of Egypt's post-coup government committed crimes against humanity." It added that the report's findings corroborated legal complaints filed earlier by the Brotherhood against Egypt's military-backed authorities.

"Lawyers acting on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom & Justice Party confirm that they will refer this report to the police and international courts in support of their legal cases against those responsible for these international crimes," the group said.

For his part, Judge Walid al-Sharabi, a member of the recently formed Egyptian Revolutionary Council, said there was a "possibility" that a case could be filed by the United Nations at the ICC in light of the new HRW report.

"The report embarrasses democratic member states of the United Nations Security Council because if they don't act, they will be accused of having double standards," al-Sharabi told AA.

HRW spokesman Philippe Dam said the rights group on Wednesday would begin sending the Rabaa report to diplomats serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand that action be taken ahead of the U.N.'s annual general assembly, slated for September 27.

"The move is also aimed at voicing condemnation of the continued repression of freedoms in Egypt," Dam added.

The Egyptian government on Tuesday criticized the HRW report as "biased," accusing the organization of "willfully ignoring" the government's version of events.

HRW says it interviewed more than 200 witnesses, including protesters, doctors, local residents and independent journalists; visited each of the protest sites during or immediately after the violence; and reviewed physical evidence, video footage and relevant statements by public officials.

It also says it had written to relevant Egyptian government ministries in an effort to hear their account of events, but received no response.

The rights group further confirmed in its report that some pro-Morsi demonstrators had used firearms in a few cases, but added that this did "not justify the grossly disproportionate and premeditated lethal attacks on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters."

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