Egypt: ICJ calls on authorities to end impunity for gross human rights violations and guarantee victims’ rights to a remedy and to reparation
The ICJ calls on the Egyptian authorities to take immediate steps to guarantee the rights of victims of human rights violations to an effective remedy and to reparation for the serious harm many have suffered.
The authorities should initiate, as a matter of the highest priority, prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into past and ongoing human rights abuses, including cases of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, and extrajudicial and other unlawful killings.
The statement comes as the ICJ concludes a high-level mission to address the human rights situation in Egypt and to examine the measures being taken by the authorities to address both the legacy of human rights abuses and to ensure accountability for them.
“The Egyptian authorities should ensure that the pattern of widespread and systematic human rights violations committed under the former regime is not repeated. This will involve the comprehensive reform of State institutions and the revision of the national legal framework with a view to ensuring that the rights of victims are safeguarded in line with international standards,” said Justice Kalthoum Kennou, ICJ Commissioner and member of an ICJ mission to Egypt. “Such reforms should target the police and security forces, the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the Forensic Medicine Office and the judicial system as a whole, including by restricting the jurisdiction of the military justice system to exclude civilians and all cases involving human rights violations.”
The ICJ notes that current reparation programmes, established by the government, have a restricted mandate, which has resulted in the arbitrary exclusion of numerous victims and their families from these programmes. They also do not ensure the accessibility of the range of reparations required under international law. Most importantly, such programmes have failed so far to ensure accountability for past and ongoing human rights violations.
“The very few proceedings against State officials have resulted in acquittals or sentences that are not commensurate with the gravity of the crimes committed. In order to end this cycle of impunity, the Egyptian authorities must hold those responsible for gross human rights violations accountable through criminal prosecutions,” said Alejandro Salinas, a Chilean lawyer and member of the ICJ mission. “They should also establish a transitional justice mechanism with sufficient guarantees of independence and with a comprehensive mandate to address the legacy of past and present human rights abuses, while ensuring that impunity does not become entrenched.”
The delegation was led by ICJ Commissioner, Justice Kalthoum Kennou, and Alejandro Salinas, and was supported by ICJ legal advisers, Alice Goodenough and Marya Farah. The delegation met with the then Minister of Justice, Ahmed Mekki, Justice Adel Omar Sherif of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the President and Secretary-General of the National Council for Human Rights, Hossam Al Gheryani and Abdallah El Ashaal, the Director of the National Council for the Care of the Revolution’s Martyrs, Families and Wounded, Khaled Badwy, the Vice President of the Court of Cassation and Secretary General of the High Judicial Council, Justice Mohamed Mahgoub, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Shura Council, Ehab Kharrat, members of the judiciary, the legal profession and civil society, as well as a number of victims, and the families of victims of human rights violations committed before and after the departure of former President Mubarak.
Said Benarbia, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: 41 22 979 38 17, e-mail: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
Egypt-ICJ calls auhorities-Press release-2013-Arabic (full text in PDF)