UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] on Monday expressed grave concern [press release] regarding the continuing violence wracking Egypt in the wake of the three-year anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Pillay encouraged both protesters and security forces to exercise restraint and renounce the use of violence, reminding Egyptian authorities of its international obligation to allow the free exercise of assembly and expression of its citizens. Pillay has called on [UN News Centre report] Egyptian authorities to conduct "prompt, independent and impartial" investigations into the killings of protesters and security forces alike.
Egypt has dealt with political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution began in 2011, and anti-government protesters and supporters of the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood continue to fight the military backed government for political control in the country. Earlier this week, Egypt's interim president announced [JURIST report] that the Egyptian presidential elections would be held before conducting parliamentary elections, a deviation from the timetable agreed to after Egypt's army deposed [JURIST report] President Mohamed Morsi in July. The Egyptian government has taken major steps in governmental reform through the drafting of a new constitution, which was ratified [JURIST report] by 98% of voters on January 19. Egyptians voted [JURIST report] on the new military-backed constitution on January 16, with news reports citing a 42% voter turnout rate coupled with serious irregularities in the voting records. The Egypt assembly finalized [JURIST report] the constitution on December 2.