[The following report was published by the Alkarama Foundation on 26 March 2014]
Impunity is Not an Option: Ensure Accountability for Mass Killings in Egypt
In the age of human rights accountability, it is inconceivable that systematic extrajudicial killings of demonstrators remain poorly investigated and unpunished. Since the outset of the revolution on 25 January 2011, Egypt has witnessed killings of demonstrators under the rule of Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), President Mohamed Morsi and interim president Adli Mansour. Alkarama has continued to report on the violence carried out against demonstrators under each of these regimes since the beginning of 2011 by providing UN complaint mechanisms with relevant information on developments in the country.
While the violence against demonstrators has been endemic over the past three years, it peaked on 14 August 2013 when the Egyptian security apparatus stormed the sit-ins of Rabaa and Nahda, where protesters were demanding the return of Morsi as President. More than one thousand people died that day, but no one has been held accountable for the killings.
This pattern of killing and lack of accountability over the past three years indicates that there is a structural problem with the Egyptian security and judicial apparatus, making it unable to address violations of human rights, and more specifically, the right to life.
While commissions of inquiries have been constituted under the SCAF and the presidencies of Mohamed Morsi and Adli Mansour to investigate the killing of demonstrators, these have not lead to meaningful results. For example, under Mohamed Morsi’s presidency, a fact-finding committee was established pursuant to Decision 10 of 20 July 2012 to investigate the killings of demonstrators which had taken place between 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2012. The committee was entrusted with establishing the truth and determining who was responsible for violations against protesters. The findings were submitted to President Morsi in December 2012 but he refused to publish the results, thus indicating a lack of political will to ensure accountability.
Likewise, for the events of Rabaa and Nahda, no serious efforts have been undertaken to establish an accurate account of the violations. This should normally be done through the establishment of an investigation mechanism in conformity with international standards which would, after having identified those responsible for violations, bring the perpetrators to justice. It is submitted in this report that the Egyptian authorities that would normally be entrusted with the task of investigating the killing of demonstrators since 3 July 2013 are unable to produce meaningful results. In Egypt, it is the prosecutor who monitors the work of the security authorities. In addition, s/he also carries out the investigation and brings the charges at the same time. Egypt does not follow a system of mandatory prosecution, so it is up to the prosecutor to take the decision to prosecute. The prosecution’s work has significant impact on the case, as the judge rules according to the evidence presented by the prosecutor.
After a review of Egyptian law and practice, the extent to which prosecutors have failed to uphold human rights and more importantly, accountability for human rights abuses, will be exposed. The report will then examine their inability to carry out meaningful investigation and prosecution for violations committed by Egyptian officials since the military takeover. In addition, it will be shown that given the anti-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) climate encouraged by the government which has capitalised on shortcomings of Morsi’s presidency, accountability for the killing of MB protest- ers will be even harder to achieve. Even though the report seeks to shed light on the inability of authorities to prosecute violations of the right to life, it will also refer to other violations (torture, administrative detention) to highlight the discrepancy between internationally-accepted good investigation practices and the work of Egyptian prosecutors.
While this report deals with the discrimination faced by MB supporters at the hand of authori- ties responsible for ensuring accountability, this does not mean that, in practice, the violations highlighted in the report are restricted to the sole MB. Such violations have been occurring against demonstrators of various political background, opposed to the ruling regime over the past three years. Nevertheless, at no time has the repression been as systematic and widespread as it has been against the MB since 3 July 2013.
[To read the full report click here]