News / Middle East

Missing Transitional Justice in Egypt’s Transition

Egyptian Security Forces Detain Suspected Muslim Brotherhood Supporters
Egyptian Security Forces Detain Suspected Muslim Brotherhood Supporters
Mohamed Elshinnawi
Over the past three years Egypt has lurched from crisis to crisis. Many Egyptians who participated in the euphoric protests that brought an end to Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year rule returned to the streets earlier this year in mass protests that helped lead to the ouster of Egypt’s first popularly elected President, Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government.  Now with a foundering economy, political repression on the rise and Egyptians divided as never before many are asking what went wrong.

Experts believe one of the major stumbling blocks on Egypt’s road to democracy has been the absence of transitional justiceas Mohamed Abdel Dayem, Senior Associate at the New York based International Center for Transitional Justice explains.

“Such justice should have been administered and should have included prosecution of offenses committed under former regimes, reparations for victims, establishment of truth commissions and implementation of reforms, both in the judiciary and law enforcement sectors,” he said.

Abdel Dayem says that the only components of transitional justice that Egypt carried out were the flawed criminal trails of deposed President Hosni Mubarak and some former officials who served in his government.  He says the trials failed to meet a basic condition of transitional justice which is to rebuild social trust by repairing a fractured justice system. 

“The problem was that the people who were tasked with collecting much of the evidence were the very same people who participated in human rights violations of the past, so it was not a surprise that there is a need for a retrial of Mubarak and his aides.” Abdel Dayem said.

He anticipates another challenge to transitional justice as the trial of former president Mohamed Morsi starts next month.

“To try the deposed president in isolation from all other elements of transitional justice is a repetition of the same ad hoc approach that protracted the transition.” Abdel Dayem warned “Many of the players who participated in those very violations that Egypt is trying to put an end to remain in power in one way or another and they will try to subvert transitional justice in its entirety.”  

Interim government efforts at transitional justice fail

Ahmed Morsy, an Egyptian researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland argues that even after Interim President Adli Mansour appointed Judge Mohamed Elmahdi as Egypt’s first-ever Minister of Transitional Justice few steps have been taken to implement transitional justice measures.

“Many Egyptians hoped that their long list of abused rights could find justice, but until now very little has been accomplished.” Morsy said.

According to Morsy the Egyptian government has attempted several times to establish independent commissions to investigate killings and abuses of protestors, but none has appeared efficient, sincere, or transparent. These include a fact-finding commission investigating the deaths of protestors during the January 25 revolution -- formed last year by Mohamed Morsi.

“The latest episodes in Egypt’s wobbly transition, particularly the imprisonment of the deposed Morsi and the death of over 50 Egyptians at the Republican Guards’ club on July 8, might suggest that Egypt has missed the chance for transitional justice.” Ahmed Morsy argued.

Michael Hanna, a fellow at the New York based The Century Foundation says transitional justice in Egypt has been characterized by fundamental lack of transparency and popular participation.

“The interim government’s commitment to accountability has appeared to fluctuate in relation to the level of public outrage and protest, and lacked an articulated rationale for its course.” Hanna said “There has also been insufficient public discussion of the direction of transitional justice efforts.”

Hanna says needed reforms of the Egyptian security sector have been largely cosmetic and have had little or no impact on the all-important Interior Ministry. Endemic problems at the ministry will persist, he says, without a more consistent effort at inculcating respect for the rule of law, and reforming police education and training.

Abdel Dayem agrees and says “Everybody knows that one of the major factors that precipitated the uprising in January 2011 and the additional rounds of civil unrest was police brutality and lack of accountability for abuse by state agents, so Egypt’s transition needs to put an end to impunity.”

And Ahmed Morsy concludes, “The longer the Egyptian government does not address its citizens’ grievances and genuinely reform its institutions, the higher the chances for a cyclical recurrence of mass protests, violence, and a gross accumulation of grievances without redress.”

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More