Saturday, March 17, 2012

No justice, no peace

By Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Last Sunday, a military tribunal acquitted a former army doctor accused of conducting so-called "virginity tests" on a number of women detained by the military last year. The case was brought by Samira Ibrahim, a 25-year-old marketing manager who was among scores of people arrested during a violent army crackdown on a protest in Tahrir Square on 9 March, 2011. Ibrahim was held for four days in a military prison along with a number of other women. Soldiers beat them, gave them electric shocks and subjected them to strip searches before forcing seven of them to undergo "virginity tests." Before she was released, Ibrahim was brought before a military court and received a one-year suspended sentence on a rioting charge.

Despite being pressured to remain silent about her ordeal, Ibrahim decided to speak out and filed a lawsuit against the military. This led to a legal victory in December when a civilian administrative court found that 34 women were subjected to "virginity tests" in military hospitals and ordered that such procedures be stopped. However, the victims were still waiting for someone to be held accountable, and army soldiers can only be tried in military courts.

Military prosecutors investigating Ibrahim's case brought only one individual, Dr. Ahmed Adel, to trial. He stood accused of public indecency and disobeying military orders after an initial charge of sexual assault was dropped......

The military court went further and denied the "virginity tests" even took place, contradicting the December administrative court ruling and admissions by members of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to journalists and human rights groups, including Amnesty International......

Ibrahim's case is just the latest in a series of recent court rulings that reflect the continuation in post-Mubarak Egypt of a broken system that, more often than not, offers impunity for government crimes and punishment for those governed.

Last week, the Cairo Criminal Court overturned the sentence against the only police officer convicted of killing protesters since the revolution began.....

All of these court rulings happened within the last few weeks and received minimal attention. Meanwhile, the talk of the day centers on Parliament, the drafting of the constitution and the presidential elections — the supposed pillars of the state. Yet a legal system that consistently acts in the interests of those at the helm of political power cannot be sustained. It was this very lack of accountability and this deformed application of justice that helped ignite the Egyptian revolution one year ago. Those scrambling for a place in the throne Mubarak was thrown from would do well to remember what is an elemental equation in any society and a rallying cry for struggles the world over: No justice, no peace."

No comments: