Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: U.N. human rights official calls for improved security

February 4, 2011 |  7:22 am

The United Nations' top human rights official Friday called on Egyptian authorities to rein in security and intelligence forces she said were causing chaos, and to stop harassing journalists and activists.

Navi Pillay, speaking to Reuters at a news conference in Geneva, also said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should heed the voice of his people, many of whom have demanded that he step down immediately.

Despite violent clashes between pro-Mubarak supporters and protesters earlier this week, Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, noted that police have been noticeably absent from Cairo's Tahrir Square and that the army has failed to separate rival groups, with tragic consequences.

"One of the prime drivers of this chaos seems to have been the actions of Egypt's security and intelligence services," Pillay said. "Change is coming to Egypt, as it came to Tunisia, but the violence and bloodshed must stop now."

The U.N. estimates that 300 people have died in the unrest.


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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske