CAIRO: The Human Rights Watch withdrew Thursday its skepticism over the testimony included in its report of Maged Atef who witnessed the shooting of a police officer during the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-in in Rabaa square on August 14, 2013.
The HRW said in its report about the Rabaa dispersal released on August 12 that it was not sure about Atef’s testimony regarding the timing when the officer was gunned down, as it said that when it interviewed him, he gave conflicting testimonies about the time when he witnessed the incident.
The HRW said in its Thursday clarification regarding what was included in its Rabaa report that it interviewed Atef twice, first on Aug. 17, 2013 by phone and on Sept. 4 in person, adding “he said the incident took place at 1-2pm in his Aug. interview and at 11:30 am in his Sept. interview.” Adding that he said he was not sure of the exact time but later sent an email confirming the time was 2:10 p.m.
It further added that Atef in his interview with the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) stated that he saw the officer being shot at around 11 am.
“Because of these discrepancies and lack of additional evidence, Human Rights Watch stated in its report that it ‘could not corroborate Atef’s account,” it said.
It added in the clarification that it revised page 40 of the report to “to make clear the inability only to corroborate the timing of the incident and to eliminate any suggestion that Human Rights Watch did not find Atef’s statements credible,” and added language now reads that “Human Rights Watch cannot establish precisely when the shooting took place.”
Atef said on Aug. 12, on his Facebook account after the report was released, that he only met once with the HRW, he wondered how he could have reported two different timings in two interviews while he had met Heba Morayef, Egypt’s director at Human Rights Watch only once.
He further clarified that in his NCHR recorded testimony, he did not determine the timing precisely, adding “on the contrary, I repeatedly said I don’t remember exactly when it happened.”
He added that Morayef told him when she interviewed him that his testimony is the most “honest” and “respectable”.
He added at the time that he would tender complaints against the report to the HRW’s regional director and would ask them to correct his testimony and to apologize to him based on Morayef’s talk with him before she left the HRW, adding he “is not against the report in general but he is against the part regarding his testimony.”
After the HRW issued its clarification, Atef welcomed the move and posted on his Facebook, “By the virtue of this amendment, the organization has removed any reason for dispute between us. I am satisfied with this statement and confirm my respect for HRW and for anyone who seeks the truth and abides by accuracy in their wording.”