Why Mubarak's trial may not bring Egypt full justice [VIDEO]
Egyptians have pushed hard for a speedy trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who appeared in a Cairo courthouse today. But key aspects of transitional justice are being overlooked.
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Ensuring the cases are more than mere show trials not only protects the rights of the defendants, but also plays an important role in societies undergoing transition. Trials that uncover the full truth of the former regime’s actions are important for bringing closure and moving the nation forward, says Marieke Wierda, director of the criminal justice program at the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice.Skip to next paragraph
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“If this process would proceed and there are questions about fairness, this could be very very damaging to Egypt's future,” she says. Judge Belshi says it's not about revenge, but about truth. "There is no room for reconciliation without accountability," he says.
While the spotlight is on Mubarak’s trial and criminal justice, Egypt has shown little movement in other areas of transitional justice that experts say are crucial for moving beyond the abuses of the Mubarak era.
Independent judicial committee?
The transitional government did appoint a commission to investigate the killings of protesters during the revolution, but no truth commission has been launched covering the decades of Mubarak’s rule. And while the generals ruling Egypt until new elections are called decided to fire some police officers accused of killing protesters, and relocated others, there has been no major reform effort for security services plagued by widespread abuse and corruption.
The interim military rulers have shown signs of wanting to revive the so-called "treason law," a law formerly used to try the political opponents of those who initiated the 1952 military coup in Egypt. But rights experts say the law, which would see military members participating in trials against former Mubarak-era officials, will not bring justice.
CIHRS has called for the establishment of an independent judicial committee to conduct the investigations and trials, not only for crimes committed during the revolution but during the past 30 years. The task is huge, would take years, and would need to draw on international experience and expertise, says Mr. Hassan. While such a commission would not be able to try every perpetrator of crimes under the past regime, it should target those most responsible, he says.
Few see signs that Egypt’s military rulers – who were themselves part of Mubarak’s regime – are interested in establishing and independent judicial commission or pursuing mechanisms of transitional justice. That stands in stark contrast with Tunisia, which has asked the International Center for Transitional Justice to advise the government during the transition from the rule of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was also ousted by a popular revolt. The organization has received no such official invitation from Egypt’s government.
“I hope that the military would support [an independent judicial committee]," says Mr. Hassan of CIHRS. "But I don’t see any serious indication that they would go in this direction.”