In Response to the Army and Police's Allegations: The EIPR Releases a Code of Conduct for Policing Demonstrations and Public Disorder

Press Release

27 December 2011

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said that the recurring statements made lately by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Ministry of Interior officials about the legitimacy of the use of violence against demonstrators, are in clear breach of international laws and standards, and constitute an acknowledgment of the liability of army and police forces in the crimes committed against demonstrators over the past months.

The EIPR released today a code of conduct containing the international standards applicable in demonstrations and public disorder situations, including the circumstances in which the use of force by security forces is legitimate, and those in which the use of force is illegal and constitutes criminal offenses.

"After every crime committed by the police or army forces, we hear allegations and justifications such as: that the demonstrators were the ones who started the violence, that the security forces used only legitimate means to defend public property and defend themselves, or that the killings were not carried out by the security forces themselves, but by third parties", said Magda Boutros, Criminal Justice Director at the EIPR. "Notwithstanding a large body of evidence contracting these allegations, and assuming that these allegations were completely true, the type and level of violence used against demonstrators over the past months constitute criminal offenses and make the perpetrators and their superiors criminally liable," she added.

In addition to presenting the international rules and standards regulating the use of force by the police or by army forces carrying out police duties, the code of conduct also explains how these rules should be applied in different circumstances, such as in an illegal demonstration, in a demonstration where some protesters use force, when there is an attack on public or private property, or when demonstrators are attacked by other civilians.

In all cases, the international standards applicable leave no doubt that the behavior of police and army forces over the past months constitutes a clear violation of these rules, and that those who gave orders and those who implemented orders to use illegal violence against protesters should be held accountable. This holds true for the 'Majlis el Shaab' clashes in December, which resulted in the death of 17 protesters, for the 'Mohamed Mahmoud street' clashes in November, which resulted in the death of 45 protesters, for the 'Maspero massacre' in October which resulted in the death of 28 protesters, and for other events before them.

You can read the code of conduct here.