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Anticipating Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation

Adel Maged
Adel Maged

President Sisi has been elected, and everyone wonders what will be next. Will he continue the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, as indicated? What does it mean that the Salafi Nour Party is backing him? Is Sisi an Islamist-of-sorts himself? Is he a dictator in the making? Does his presidency herald a coming liberal era?

For these answers one must wait and see. But beyond the obvious divide that exists in Egypt lies one reality: The constitution obliges parliament to issue a law on transitional justice in its first session. Having suffered – or celebrated – the fall of two presidents in three years, political frustrations exist among many. Far beyond frustrations, many are dead due to political violence. Few have been held accountable.

Transitional justice promises much; in theory and often in international practice it leads to national reconciliation. Will it in Egypt?

Again, one must wait and see. But ‘Adil Mājid, vice-president of the Egyptian Court of Cassation and an honorary professor of law at the UK’s Durham University, is one with a vision. In July 2013 he wrote an article putting forward the requirements of national reconciliation at a time the concept was first discussed after the fall of Mursī.

I have translated his article here, published at Arab West Report.

A year later, Mājid is very critical of early efforts, but is hopeful that with a new president and coming parliament, the groundwork is better laid. Though obstacles remain, in an interview he described his hope for transitional justice given current realities, in the framework of his earlier article.

This vision is given here, also at Arab West Report.

Of course, even worthy endeavors like transitional justice and national reconciliation can be employed for less than worthy ends. Mājid is well aware of this possibility. But in answering the questions posed above about the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism, dictatorship, and a liberal era, a key indicator to watch will be how it is used, worthily or otherwise. Will it heal the nation, or hurt it further?

Please read the linked reports for indications from a respected expert. Then watch carefully, and judge accordingly. Justice and reconciliation are concepts to be respected, necessary for the well-being of any nation. May they be pursued with truth and transparency.

Categories
Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Adel Maged: Transitional Justice in the Constitution

Adel Maged
Adel Maged

From my recent article at Arab West Report, in a series of interviews about the composition of Egypt’s constitution. Adel Maged is the vice-president of the Court of Cassation, and has recently written a draft law on ensuring a process of transitional justice in Egypt. Its details are in the article, but here is an excerpt describing his effort to enshrine the concept in the new constitution:

Mājid’s law can come into existence through a simple presidential decree. He sought, however, to ground the concept of transitional justice more fully by inclusion in the 2013 amendments to the Egyptian constitution. Early on during the period of listening sessions, with Suzi Nāshid, a Coptic professor of economics at Alexandra University, who previously was selected to serve on the Shūrá Council, he presented his vision to the official dialogue committee in the fifty member constitutional assembly.

But so did representatives of Counselor Muhammad Amīn al-Mahdī, the head of the recently established Ministry of Transitional Justice. It also proposed the creation of a commission, but insisted that the ministry be included in it.

According to Mājid’s interpretation, this would ruin the most important characteristic of the commission: its independent standing. The ministry is an official arm of the executive branch, which could potentially threaten the necessary neutrality of the process. How can the government investigate itself?

Mājid believed the members of the constitutional assembly recognized the need for independence in transitional justice, but succumbed to the pressure of the ministry and failed to issue a decisive judgment on the matter. He declined to speculate on their reasoning, but suggested we speak with ‘Azzah al-‘Ashmāwī, the representative of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, who served on the listening committee. But the end result was the inclusion of an open-ended Article 214 into the constitutional text, which states:

In its first session after the enforcement of this constitution, the House of Representatives commits to issuing a transitional justice law that ensures revealing the truth, accountability, proposing frameworks for national reconciliation, and compensating victims, in accordance with international standards.

Basically, the committee enshrined the principle of transitional justice, but left the hard decisions of definition, composition, and methodology to the coming parliament. Fair enough, believed Mājid, but he would have preferred a stronger guarantee that his vision – based on extensive study of international models – would become a reality.

Please click here to read the full article at Arab West Report.