Transitional justice policy in authoritarian contexts: The case of Egypt

Source: Brookings Institute
Author(s): Noha Aboueldahab

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Transitional justice has increasingly struggled to provide realistic remedies for societies reeling from conflict or decades of authoritarian rule.[1] The transitional justice field traditionally presumes that transitions occur from violent, authoritarian rule to liberal, democratic rule. Such transitions are, in fact, applicable to only a few cases in the vast number of transitions that have occurred in the last few decades.[2] Renewed authoritarianism in Egypt is an example of the multiple challenges that actors face in their pursuit of transitional justice in diverse, non-liberal contexts. The Egyptian transition presents a significant challenge to this presumed path to liberal democracy and, instead, provides a powerful example of the diversity of transitions and the need to respond creatively to them.[3] Egypt’s “deep state” institutions, for instance, play an important role in its so-called transitional society. It is those very institutions including the judiciary, the police, and other state security and political agencies that normally engage in the pursuit of transitional justice. In the Egyptian context, however, such deep state institutions use both the language and the tools of transitional justice to entrench authoritarian rule. This is a key difference between the uses of transitional justice in a democratizing state, as opposed to one in which authoritarian rule re-emerges…..

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