International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Egypt

Attack in Egypt

On December 11, 2016, a bomb went off at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral, killing 25 and wounding 49.

Amnesty international has stated, “Those responsible for this morning’s reprehensible bombing at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo should be brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty”.

Mena (Egypt’s state run news) reported that12 kilograms of TNT explosives were used in this attack. It has mostly killed woman and children, and is the deadliest such attack since the 1st January 2011, when there was a church bombing in Alexandria, which killed 23 people.

President Abdel Farah Al-Sisi has encouraged the people of Egypt to band together, “to emerge victorious in the war against terrorism, which is the battle of all Egyptians”. He has stressed that the authority will take immediate action and will be harsh with its response. The Egyptian government has previously staked its mandate on the fight against Islamic groups, promising to protect the minorities as part of its pledge. This bombing has made the people question whether or not the government can protect them from these types of crimes.muslim-terror-attack-on-egyptian-coptic-church

“The government doesn’t protect us. They can’t protect us against terrorism in general,” said one man.

Egypt has seen a rise in attacks affiliated with ISIS since the former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was over thrown in 2003.

After today’s tragic even Egypt has declared three days of mourning.

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Mohamed Morsi, the deposed former president of Egypt, was sentenced to 20 years in prison with hard labor on the charges of “inciting violence and directing illegal detentions as well as torture.” The conviction was the first resulting from the four significant cases brought against Morsi since 2013, when he was ousted by the military. Morsi could also potentially face death penalty from results of other trials. This is a politically charged issue as all the defendants are either from Morsi’s regime or Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.

While the news of the conviction may sound encouraging to some, I fear that there may be foul play involved. Morsi was tried and convicted in the national court system, which is clearly under and influenced by the military regime. As seen a couple weeks ago, Pakistanis just reversed the sentences handed down by its military courts against those convicted of a terrorist attack in a school in Peshwar. Leaving trials of such magnitude to military tribunes seem to inevitably result in the trials’ failure to meet international standards of fairness and due process. At this point, the defense lawyers of Morsi can still appeal the court’s decision, but appealing within the national court system seems rather futile.

While the ICC’s complementarity principle ensures the preservation of state sovereignty to a certain degree, it is true that stable governments are not the same as legally fair ones. Just because a state has a strong rule of law and can carry out these trials, it does not mean that the state is fit for such important trials.

The article can be found here.

The ICC and Egypt

An interesting addition to the ongoing discussion on the future of Egypt – The Muslim Brotherhood is asking the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes committed in Egypt. The legal team of the Muslim Brotherhood, composed of top international criminal lawyers from Britain, is alleging that the military has committed mass crimes against humanity.

Given that Egypt is not a member-state of the ICC, the only way for the case to be eligible, either the Security Council will have to refer it or the Egyptian government itself will have to involve the ICC and recognize it’s jurisdiction. Both of these options are unlikely, thus, the MB’s legal team has decided to launch a wide reaching publicity campaign and file cases around the world, hoping for some success. The end goal of this would be that the ICC would prosecute the military and in doing so, recognize the legitimacy of the Morsi administration.

This example of transitional justice struck me as very interesting because this attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood has been met with skepticism across the board. If the ICC were to take this case, it would be a huge victory for the Muslim Brotherhood; however, western governments are reluctant to lend their support. Given that the Muslim Brotherhood has thus far been unsuccessful in creating a strong enough power base domestically within Egypt, due to the military, I am curious as to what potential external support will emerge over the next few months. Even though the ICC is unlikely to take this case, will the publicity and discussion received on the international sphere effect the domestic Egyptian perception of the Muslim Brotherhood’s cause and decrease support for the military?

President Morsi’s New Powers

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has issued a decree granting himself powerful executive powers and immunity from legal challenge.  He has done so with the supposed purpose of protecting the transition to democracy and to fulfill popular demands for justice.  A major objective of this action is to do away with the remnants of the judicial system left over from Mubarak’s rule, specifically the dismissal of prosecutor-general Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and the order of retrials for Mubarak and other officers for killings of civilian protestors during the uprising. President Morsi had previously tried to remove Mahmoud after the acquittals of the Camel Battle case, but failed to do so.

Since this declaration, many Egyptian citizens have begun protesting, critical of “Pharaoh Morsi.”  Amr Hamzawy, a prominent Egyptian political scientist has stated that, “Egypt is facing a horrifying coup against legitimacy and the rule of law and a complete assassination of the democratic transition.”

President Morsi has stated that he is acting in the name of justice and to protect the goals of the revolution; however, in doing so, he is suppressing the independence of the judicial system and the civil liberties of the people.  The retrials of Mubarak and co. seem to me to be mainly an attempt at political vengeance and legitimization.  Despite popular division in opinion, justice should not come at this cost.

Transitional Justice Cann’t happen without The Rule Of Law

Two months after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, many women activist who were detained in military detention camps have to submit to a five-minute-long so-called virginity test by a male doctor. The practice drew an outcry after Ms Ibrahim and other women spoke out about their treatment following their arrest during a protest in Tahrir Square in March 2011 – weeks after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
They said they had been forced by the Egyptian army, while in detention, to submit to a five-minute-long so-called virginity test by a male doctor.
The army initially denied such tests had taken place, but Amnesty International reported that a senior general, speaking anonymously, later admitted that they had happened.
Ms Ibrahim and other activists launched a legal challenge to prevent such tests happening again, and Cairo’s administrative court eventually ruled that the tests were illegal.
Afew months later, A military court in Egypt has acquitted an army doctor accused of carrying out forced “virginity tests” on women protesters.
Such actions done by the military soldier’s raises a sign that the Rule Of Law sentiment as a cornerstone of transitional justice in new Egypt will be difficult to achieve. While the Rule of law is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. We can clearly see in the virginity check a violation for human rights. The absence of independent judiciary could lead to more violence against women activism and this in all cases will hindered Egypt’s Transitional Justice process.

“The Case for Justice” by ICTJ

This video from the International Center for Transitional Justice makes the “case for justice” by highlighting different examples of countries in transition from violence (e.g. Colombia, Egypt, DRC, Uganda, Cambodia, etc.) and where there are impunity gaps.

  • What arguments does ICTJ make for why justice is necessary?
  • What are the different obstacles to accountability across the cases?
  • How does ICTJ’s conception of “justice” compare to those we discussed in class and in the assigned readings?

Panel on protests in Middle East

This past Thursday I attended a panel discussion “Popular Uprisings in the Arab World” in the Cape Cod Lounge.

One of the topics that I find most interesting was the question of what form of government would replace Mubarak’s regime.

The Americanised image of Egypt has been mostly moderate/positive. In general we do not associate Egypt with the “axis of evil” lens we use to analyse what happens in the Middle East. One of the main reasons for this is that Mubarak has been moderate enough for US Government to not label him as a “Muslim Extremist”. The problem is that despite his lack of allegiance to Muslim extremism, he is still a horrific dictator who controls the everyday lives of his people.

One of the ‘worst-case-scenarios” being presented is that the government to replace Mubarak would be the Islamic Brotherhood or a similar organisation.

The panel raised the question, what is so horrible about the Islamic Brotherhood? They are an established organisation with structure and leadership and are not so violent and extreme as many Americans assume they are. Yet Americans fear the concept of another state having Islam in their government. Why do we fear this so much? Are we only content that a country has been “saved” if it has been Americanised? Can we not accept that justice of the people has been served if the people WANT Islam in their government?

These questions made me wonder if Americans are not so concerned with Egyptians finding THEIR justice as much as we are with Egyptians finding OUR justice.