CAIRO,(Reuters) – The international rights group Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation into the death of 23 Sudanese refugees when Egyptian police stormed their squatter camp in Cairo on Friday morning.
“President Hosni Mubarak should urgently appoint an independent commission to investigate the use of force by police against Sudanese migrants,” the New York-based group said in a statement received on Saturday.
“The high loss of life suggests the police acted with extreme brutality … A police force acting responsibly would not have allowed such a tragedy to occur,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’ss Middle East division.
Riot police on Friday stormed the squatter camp to remove or disperse some 3,500 Sudanese, which had spent three months in a public garden demanding resettlement in another country.
Witnesses said police beat the refugees with truncheons and used water cannon to drive them from the camp. The Egyptian authorities said the Sudanese died in a stampede. The Sudanese had thrown bottles and rocks at the police, they added.
Human Rights Watch said that by international standards police must use non-violent means before resorting to force and may use force only when strictly necessary.
“The blood is still on the sidewalks, and already the government is blaming the Sudanese refugees and migrants,” said Stork. “Given Egypt’s terrible record of police brutality, an independent investigation is absolutely necessary to assess responsibility and punish those responsible,” he added.