Yesterday, 13 September 2013, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies presented an oral intervention about the state of transitional justice in the countries of the “Arab Spring” to the UN Human Rights Council (the Council) as part of the activities of the 24th session of the Council, which is currently convened in Geneva and which is scheduled to continue until 27 September, 2013.
The Cairo Institute began by welcoming the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations, and non-recurrence, which was discussed at this session of the Council. The Cairo Institute made reference to the steps that have been taken towards achieving transitional justice in Tunisia, asserting that any process of transitional justice must also include mechanisms to address the grave violations to civil and political rights committed in the past. The Cairo Institute urged the Council to support Tunisia in ensuring an inclusive transitional process and in achieving justice for past and ongoing violations.
The Cairo Institute referred to some of the challenges to transitional justice noted by the Special Rapporteur in his report, pointing out that Bahrain has refused to implement most of the recommendations submitted by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. For its part, the Yemeni government has failed even to appoint members to its national commission of inquiry.
The Cairo Institute further criticized the failure to establish mechanisms of transitional justice in Egypt and the lack of political will to administer justice in a manner that is neither selective nor retributive. Not only have the Egyptian authorities refrained from seeking such mechanisms in order to achieve reconciliation and accountability, but they have failed to put an end to sectarian violence and even used excessive force to disperse recent protests. The Cairo Institute further expressed its concern over violations such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, military trials of civilians, and torture, which continue to be committed with impunity.
Finally, the Cairo Institute urged for representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed to enter Egypt in order to undertake impartial investigations into recent violations, stating that the failure of the authorities to grant them visas undermines the right of Egyptians to know the truth once again. The Cairo Institute ended its intervention by calling on the Egyptian government to ensure accountability for past and ongoing violations and to guarantee inclusivity in the current transitional period, particularly as relates to the new constitution.
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