Egypt’s human rights record was condemned during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council held in Geneva on 5 November.

Delegations from the US and UK, along with human rights organisations, called for the country to free political prisoners and investigate accusations of alleged violence and abuse against protesters by security forces.

There were also calls for the government to review laws that limit citizens’ right to protest.

“We are deeply concerned with steps taken by Egypt that have resulted in violations of freedoms of expression, peace assembly and association, deprived thousands of Egyptians of fair trial guarantees and undermined civil society’s role in the country,” said Ambassador Keith Harper, US representative to the Human Rights Council during the UN meeting.

Egypt’s envoy rejected the accusations of human rights abuses.

Since the former Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Mursi, was ousted from power last July, there has been a crackdown on the Brotherhood and the rights of Egyptians to voice opposition to the current government.

Last August, clashes between the Brotherhood and security forces resulted in the deaths of potentially over 1,000 people. There have also been mass detentions of opponents to the government.

“We remain very concerned at the numbers of detainees in pre-trial detention, reports of mistreatment or torture, use of mass trials and trial irregularities, retention of the death penalty,” read a statement from the UK envoy to the UN.

There were also calls for Egypt to review its forthcoming law governing non-government organisations (NGOs).

Egypt has set a deadline of 10 November for NGOs to register under the Law on Associations.

This law was first raised more than a decade ago under former president Hosni Mubarak, but never fully implemented. The law is being seen as an attempt by the government to control NGOs’ activities.