HRW : Egypt Rab’a Killings Likely Crime Against Humanity

Rabaa sit in dispersal on 14 August 2013. Photo: Mohamed Gamil/DNE

Rabaa sit in dispersal on 14 August 2013. Photo: Mohamed Gamil/DNE

In a report published yesterday and following a year-long investigation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) asserts that the systematic and widespread killing of at least 1,150 demonstrators by Egyptian security forces in July and August 2013 probably amounts to crimes against humanity. In the August 14 dispersal of the Rab’a al-Adawiya sit-in alone, security forces, following a plan that envisioned several thousand deaths, killed a minimum of 817 people and more likely at least 1,000.

The report, entitled, “All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt,” documents the death on 14 August 2013 of hundreds of protesters calling for former President Mohamed Morsi to come back. Describing a “mass killing” that could amount to a crime against humanity, HRW calls for an investigation several officials, including Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, who was elected President in May 2014. “In Rab’a Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This wasn’t merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt, and have a lot to answer for.”

Kenneth Roth arrived at Cairo airport on Monday to present the report along with Sarah Leah Whiston, executive director of HRW Middle East and North Africa Division. Both were banned from entering Egypt for “security reasons.”

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Egypt: Journalists Jailed for Supporting Muslim Brotherhood

Journalists Greste (AUS), Fahmy and Mohamed (UK) ©Reuters

Journalists Greste (AUS), Fahmy and Mohamed (UK) ©Reuters

Three Al Jazeera journalists were sentenced today to seven-year and ten-year imprisonment on the counts aiding terrorists, doctoring footage and endangering Egypt’s national security by spreading false news and supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Former President Morsi’s movement was banned in September 2013 by a ruling covering “all the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, the groups emerging from it, its associations, and any institution that branches from it or follows the group or receives financial support from it.”

Australian Peter Greste and British Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were judged alongside other journalists who were tried in absentia, including Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, and students with alleged links to Islamist protests. Monitors cast doubt on the trial as the Prosecution evidence appeared too weak to convict any of the defendants. “Technically, I don’t see how a court can convict any of the defendants based on the evidence we have seen,” said Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), who has monitored the trial on behalf of Amnesty. “If they are convicted, it means that you are not allowed to hold any views that the government does not want you to believe – and that would be a complete attack on the freedom of expression.” Continue reading

ICC Dismisses Communication Purporting to Accept Jurisdiction over Egypt

Last Thurdsay, the International Criminal Court announced that it was dismissing the communication purporting to accept the Court’s jurisdiction over Egypt as not being presented by the concerned State.

Protesters in Egypt in 2013 (c) AP photo/Amr Nabil

The communication had been submitted on 13 December 2013 by lawyers acting for, amongst others, the Freedom and Justice Party. It purported to accept the jurisdiction of the Court over the State of Egypt with respect to crimes committed on its territory since 1 June 2013.

In dismissing the communication, the Registry in consultation with the Office of the Prosecutor, found that the communication could not validly accept the jurisdiction of the Court under  Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute as the petitioners

“lacked the requisite authority under international law to act on behalf of the State of Egypt for the purpose of the Rome Statute.”

The Freedom and Justice Party consider themselves to be the democratically elected representatives in Egypt. In a press release, they express their disappointment with the decision and assert that it will not hinder accountability before the ICC. They maintain that the communication

“contained a clear and reasonable legal basis for opening a preliminary examination into the situation in Egypt and was supported by independent opinions from leading international law experts.”

Members of the Party’s legal team include former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald QC, former UN Special Rapporteur Professor John Dugard, and ICC specialist Rodney Dixon QC.

The Court remains unable to exercise its jurisdiction over Egypt until it either becomes a State Party, the UN Security Council refers the situation to the Court, or a valid Article 12(3) declaration is made.