The Cairo Appeals Court’s appointment of a civilian judge to investigate the responsibility of three leading former generals for the abuse of protesters is an opportunity to hold military officers accountable for such abuses under military rule. Human Rights Watch has documented the military’s role in detaining and torturing hundreds of protesters as well as the shooting of dozens of protesters under military rule, between January 2011 and August 2012.
Military courts have had sole jurisdiction over any act committed by military personnel and have consistently failed to investigate properly the army’s abuses against protesters, Human Rights Watch said. In the only two cases referred for trial, military prosecutors did not examine senior commanders’ responsibility, including whether they gave orders to commit abuse or failed to prevent crimes by subordinates.
“Over the past year and a half, the military has been getting away with murder, torture, and sexual assault, because military investigators were unwilling to seriously investigate their own,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “If backed by full support from the political authorities, this civilian investigation could become the first serious step toward reversing the impunity the military has enjoyed so far.”