The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) commends Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour for his decision to call for a further investigation into the security force-led violence that took place during the August 2013 dispersal of the Raba’a and Nahda sit-ins.
Mansour’s call for investigation comes just days after the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) released a report on the dispersal of the primarily Muslim Brotherhood-controlled protest camps. Mansour has asked the Minister of Justice to appoint a judge to investigate the allegations of abuses detailed in the report.
The NCHR report documents violence that occurred during the sit-in, including evidence of torture carried out by protesters. The report also details other acts of violence (supported by videographic evidence) committed by state actors, namely police forces. Despite these details, journalists have raised questions about various aspects of the report, particularly with regard to the casualty toll, which may have been underestimated due to the disorganized nature of the aftermath of the dispersal.
These concerns must be taken into consideration. However, both the report and Mansour’s subsequent declaration mark steps forward in the state’s response to public concern over the actions of the security apparatus. Accountability for state-sanctioned abuses is a necessary foundation for security sector reform in Egypt. The recent climate of violence and fear has only, and would only continue to be, compounded by a lack of transitional justice, as evidenced by the acquittal of six officers accused of killing 83 protesters in Alexandria. These most recent acquittals mark only the most recent example of a failure to bring state actors to justice since the days after the fall of Mubarak in early 2011.
TIMEP welcomes a fair, impartial, and comprehensive investigation—and prosecutions, where warranted—into crimes committed by all actors during the Raba’a and Nahda sit-ins, their dispersals, and the aftermath, in line with recommendations made by civil society actors. The government’s response to the public calls for justice marks an important step on the difficult but crucial path towards a secure and democratic society.
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of democratic transitions in the Middle East through analysis, advocacy, and action.