Post-revolutionary Egypt is allowing impunity and unable to implement transitional justice, according to two separate reports released by civil society organisations.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) released a report on impunity in “countries of the Arab Spring” on Wednesday. In the section concerning Egypt, ANHRI reviewed steps taken to achieve transitional justice since the 2011 revolution.
The report examined a series of incidents where human rights violations were exercised against Egyptians since 2011, such as the clashes on 28 January 2011, the Battle of the Camel in February 2011 and the Maspero “massacre” in October 2011.
Systematic human rights violations have been perpetrated by the state since the start of the 2011 revolution, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). In a separate report released on Tuesday discussing transitional justice and the freedom of information in Egypt, AFTE stated: “Thousands were killed in different incidents such as: 28 January , the Maspero incident , the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes [November 2011], the cabinet building clashes [December 2011], and the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in [August 2013].” AFTE added that the state, mainly the police apparatus and the armed forces, is yet to reveal the circumstances during which “such violations” were practiced.
The ANHRI report also addressed the numerous fact-finding committees established during the past three years to look into incidents of violence, including the killing and injuring of protesters. The establishment of such committees, ANHRI said, began one day before Mubarak was toppled through a decision by his Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. Other committees were established by ministerial, parliamentary or presidential decrees, apart from those formed by the National Council for Human Rights.
AFTE said there have been failed attempts to reveal the truth about such incidents through establishing fact-finding committees. The association pointed to the fact that although former President Morsi ordered in July 2012 the establishment of a fact-finding committee to look into all human rights violations which started with the 2011 revolution, the reports the committee produced were never published.
“This proved the complicity of the authorities in the violations,” AFTE said.
ANHRI reviewed in its report the trials to issue laws to govern the process of transitional justice, concluding that such trials only produced “abstract theories”.
The organisation said most efforts were mainly concerned with preventing remnants of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime from participating in political affairs. It gave the example of the disenfranchisement law which the 2012 Peoples’ Assembly tried to pass. The law would mainly prevent politicians who belong to Mubarak’s regime from running for the 2012 presidential elections. The law was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court and was consequently never passed.
ANHRI looked through the different court trials held for former regime figures. It stated that out of 192 defendants, only 20 were found guilty, whereas 101 defendants were acquitted and the trials of 71 others remain pending.
The defendants found guilty include Mubarak and his Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly. Although both were sentenced to life in prison in June 2012 for complicity in the murder of protesters during the revolution, the Cassation Court cancelled their verdicts and ordered a retrial in January 2013.
“Between what was dubbed as ‘revolutionary movements’ and ‘counterrevolutionary movements’, hopes for achieving justice and reform have evaporated,” AFTE said. “The perpetrators of such crimes were able to escape punishment.”
AFTE reiterated doubts about the ability of building a system of transitional justice in Egypt, yet stressed the importance of looking into and revealing the truth behind such incidents.
“Revealing the truth behind such violations is part of being just to the victims and acknowledging their rights,” AFTE said.