Egypt

Following a popular uprising in January and February 2011 that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are demanding accountability and seeking to address decades of political repression and human rights abuses. ICTJ provides technical assistance to aid state institutions and civil society actors in their efforts to remedy past wrongs and create a strong, rights-respecting society.

Tens of thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters mass in Tahrir Square February 1, 2011.

Background: A History of Repression, Cautious Optimism

Since 1952, Egypt has witnessed a succession of authoritarian regimes and waves of repression. The National Democratic Party (NDP)—Egypt’s ruling party established by President Anwar Sadat in 1978—remained in power until President Mubarak was forced to step down following weeks of protests in February 2011.

Mubarak’s government and the NDP kept a tight hold on the country through orchestrated elections and a brutal security apparatus. A state of emergency in place without interruption since 1981 was used to facilitate the arbitrary detention of opposition members and protesters, as well as the unfair trials of civilians before state security or military courts. Torture and ill treatment were systematically used in prisons and other detention facilities.

In February 2011—after eighteen days of popular protests inspired by the Tunisian revolution against corruption, political violence, and impunity—Mubarak stepped down, transferring power to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces. This was followed a month later by a national referendum, backing constitutional changes that will pave the way for new elections. Egyptians have continued to sporadically protest, demanding that all who served in the Mubarak regime be removed from office and held accountable.

A commission of inquiry was established by the interim government to investigate violations that occurred during the protests. Its final report issued in late April found security forces used live ammunition on demonstrators; the report named several members of the NDP responsible for the February 2 attacks on demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

In April 2011, Egypt’s High Administrative Court dissolved the National Democratic Party, ordering its assets to be transferred to the government. The transitional government in Egypt is already pursuing high officials such as the former president, former ministers (Interior and others), and security officials on charges related to corruption and violence against demonstrators during the 18 days of the uprising. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a decree to establish a fund for compensation, social services and health care of the victims of January 25 uprising and their families.

ICTJ's Role:

ICTJ’s involvement in Egypt aims to provide technical assistance and advice to local actors on transitional justice options and strengthen their capacity to respond to the challenges of the current situation.

  • ICTJ has visited Egypt to meet with local actors—including officials, judges, human rights activists, journalists, victims’ groups, women’s groups, and youth organizations—to identify how Egyptians understood their needs from a transitional justice viewpoint.
  • To address the needs raised by local actors, ICTJ will conduct missions to provide technical assistance and training on transitional justice concepts such as criminal justice, truth-seeking, vetting, and reparations.