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.