Pro-Democracy National Alliance’s Rights Commission Statement on Coup Fact-Finding Committee Stance
The Rights Commission at the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance issued the following statement Sunday to explain its stance towards the coup Fact-Finding Committee (FFC):
In pursuit of justice and retribution for the blood of Egypt’s martyrs, and in order to bring to trial military coup leaders implicated in crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights, we communicate to public opinion the following facts about recent media reports regarding the FFC:
First: In May 2014, Dr Mohamed Badran, FFC member, contacted Dr Mohamed Ali Bishr, leading member of both Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance – and Minister of Local Development in President Morsi’s government, asking for help in achieving justice by arranging for rights experts and victims’ families to testify and submit their evidence about the Rabaa and Nahda massacres and all violations perpetrated by the military junta regime against the Egyptian people.
Hence, a number of rights experts and victims’ relatives came forward, in good faith, and submitted their evidence. However, the atmosphere at FFC was by no means positive. Soon, we were shocked to witness security forces hunt down some of those who testified in the first FFC sessions, and arrest some more on ludicrous trumped up charges.
Second: Last week, we were surprised to hear dubious discussions about FFC, claiming that victims’ families never turned out to attend FFC sessions, as if witnesses were required to attend without the protection stipulated in the principles of human rights and international law.
Then, news were published, attributed to FFC, alleging that Dr Bishr refused to cooperate in documenting the crimes of the military junta and the coup regime, which was an utter lie. This raised suspicion and doubt on the FFC once again, which were confirmed after a statement issued by Dr Bishr Thursday (September 11) explained the nature of the calls in which Dr Bishr spoke first with FFC head Dr Fouad Riad, and then received a call from Justice Omar Marawan, FFC member, in endeavors to help achieve justice and get rights experts and victims’ families to attend, cooperate and testify.
Yet again, we were shocked to see the whole issue unjustifiably exploited in political contexts. Unfortunately, FFC head Dr Riad was involved in the politicizing games, with statements he made and silence regarding comments attributed to him. This had a negative impact on the balance of impartiality. Thus our suspicions were confirmed for the umpteenth time.
Third: We observed Dr Riad’s statements and media interviews, in the period before and after the military coup, and noted that his position was clearly political and biased in favor of the counter-revolution, which pointed to the reasons behind his systematic political exploitation of any communication or cooperation with the FFC.
Fourth: The FFC also expressed its opinion on a number of issues under consideration in a manner which makes it necessary for the FFC to step down. Among these issues, was the case of the hunger-strikers in prisons, especially the media professional Abdallah El-Shami and Mohamed Salah Sultan. The FFC sided with the military coup in form and substance. It launched a sharp attack against reports by international human rights organizations, the latest of which was by a Human Rights Watch report that condemned the crimes of army and police forces as well judges involved in unfair trials and media workers who incited the killing of opponents of the military-appointed regime.
Fifth: The FFC was the third such committee to be set up, since the January 2011 Revolution, after two other fact-finding committees in which Justice Amr Marawan and others were involved. Those two committees never announced the results of their investigation, until this moment. Certainly, no legal action was taken against anyone based on reports from the first two fact-finding committees.
This raises suspicion and doubt regarding the seriousness of Dr Riad, FFC’s independence and whether FFC can achieve its officially declared objectives when previous work has been so totally ignored. At least, FFC should follow the same methods of announcing results, serious communication with the victims’ families, and application of international standards for the independence of the committee.
Sixth: Until now, FFC has not announced any protection plans of any kind for those who testify or make statements before it – which it should do, according to international law and human rights principles, especially with repeated security threats made against the victims’ families.
Seventh: FFC did not honor its obligation to regularly and directly communicate its findings, and the two earlier committees’ findings, to public opinion, civil society institutions and human rights organizations. The people are sovereign. They need to know. In this regard, we highlight that the efforts made under the legitimate President Mohamed Morsi are still hidden by junta authorities in locked drawers.
Accordingly, after consultation regarding human rights and legal issues with stakeholders and volunteers in support of victims’ families about the framework of rules governing communications with any fact-finding committees, and how it would be best to achieve justice and retribution for the blood of the martyrs, the National Alliance’s Rights Commission suggested (to Dr Bishr) protest by halting all communications with Dr Riad’s FFC, especially as the Commission has established that serious communication and cooperation with Dr Riad’s FFC is impossible due to the latter’s breach of neutrality, independence and witness rights.
Cairo: September 14, 2014
Member of the National Council for Human Rights
Member of the Rights Commission at the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance
Member of the Egyptian Coordinating Committee of Rights and Freedoms