GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on Thursday for an independent investigation into the killing of hundreds of Egyptians when security forces crushed Islamist protest camps.
Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge, said that the heavy toll in Wednesday's clashes in Cairo pointed to "an excessive, even extreme use of force against demonstrators" and she urged security forces to act with utmost restraint.
"There must be an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces. Anyone found guilty of wrongdoing should be held to account," she said in a statement issued in Geneva.
The situation in Egypt had become "dangerously polarized", Pillay said, urging both sides to "step back from the brink of disaster" and seek "inclusive reconciliation". Authorities must respect the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, while opponents must ensure that their gatherings remain peaceful.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called on followers to march in protest in Cairo on Thursday, after at least 525 people were killed in a security crackdown on the Islamist movement that has left the most populous Arab nation polarized and in turmoil.
Regarding the month-long state of emergency declared by the army-installed government, Pillay said that the rule of law and human rights must be respected and those taken into custody must be treated humanely and given judicial guarantees.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Toby Chopra)