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Accountability, compensation, justice

By-Ahmed Ragheb | 4 September 2011

Revolutionary justice in Egypt requires not only that we activate procedures that already exist in Egyptian law, but also that we set up new legal authorities that can fulfill special tasks during the transitional period. Towards that end, I propose the establishment of three new bodies:

An authority for accountability and justice
 
This body will receive complaints or reports that concern the former regime from 1981 until the present. These grievances may be connected to public money squandering, torture, killing, arrests or other crimes. This body should create files for criminals from the former regime in accordance with the law. It should be guided in its operation by human rights agreements and should also be aided by human rights organizations. This authority’'s mission shall terminate after corrupt members of the former regime have been successfully brought to trial.
 
An authority to compensate the victims of the former regime
 
This authority will manage financial compensation for those it deems eligible, including martyrs’ families and those who suffered injuries during the revolution as a result of looting or violence perpetrated by the security forces. It should also offer compensation to political detainees under the former regime. The funds acquired through fines and the confiscation of assets of former regime members should be used to pay compensation in a transparent manner.
 
A revolutionary criminal court
 
This special court will be tasked with trying officials from the former regime who have been referred to it by the aforementioned accountability and justice authority. This court’s mandate will terminate with the achievement of its goals. It should have normal judges, appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council and should use Egyptian and international charters, particularly those concerning human rights violations and crimes of forced disappearance and torture.
 
These three bodies will not be able to work alone. They’ll require the cooperation of several institutions to ensure justice and a genuine transition to democracy.
 
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Egypt’s current executive authority) should refrain from interfering in the work of these authorities and guarantee their administrative and financial independence. It should also provide these bodies with information and documents related to the crimes of the former regime, which may be in the possession of various state institutions, employees and officials.
 
Egyptian civil society organizations should be allowed to train members of these authorities and monitor their work to ensure their commitment to fair trials. They should also be allowed to organize victims seeking compensation or justice.
 
Judicial and security bodies should provide these new authorities with pertinent information about human rights breaches over the last few months and protect witnesses who testify in court.
 
Finally, the media should help monitor these bodies and hold them accountable while respecting the rights and privacy of victims and witnesses.
 
The transformation from a state that systematically violated the dignity and rights of its people to one that respects the law is not easy. The whole nation should participate in making this transformation -- even when it requires staging protests. The achievement of revolutionary justice is the stepping stone to laying the foundation for a just system that protects our future and the future of our children. Our path to revolutionary justice will require time, but the process must take place alongside political, social and economic reforms.
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