The United States has sharply criticized Egypt's human rights record at the start of a United Nations meeting reviewing the country's performance for the first time since the 2011 ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council on Wednesday that Washington was deeply concerned about Egypt's crackdown on free speech, lack of fair trial and the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.

Harper's comments echoed those of other countries, including Britain, Sweden, Turkey and Uruguay.

They followed a bullish defense by Egypt's minister for transitional justice, Ibrahim el-Heneidy, who said his country's new constitution was "a true victory for human rights and freedoms" and that the government was committed to upholding the international treaties it had signed.