Brookings Doha Center: From Bad Cop To Good Cop, The Challenge of Security Reform in Egypt
The Brookings Doha Center and Stanford Project on Arab Transitions released a November 2012 paper titled, “From Bad Cop to Good Cop: The Challenge of Security Reform in Egypt,” authored by Omar Ashour. The premise of the paper is that successful democratic transitions are dependent on the establishment of “effective civilian control of the armed forces and internal security institutions.” The main concept addressed is security sector reform (SSR), which equates to the process of converting the state security apparatuses from “instruments of brutal repression and regime protection to professional, regulated, national services.” SSR is described as not only a technical, organizational, and administrative process, but also a political one, in which security forces are reoriented away from protecting the regime to protecting the citizens. The paper focuses primarily on the Ministry of Interior (MOI) due to the fact that in Egypt the MOI encompasses “the police, paramilitary forces, and domestic intelligence services.”
Two core objectives of SSR processes which are deemed critical in Egypt are:
1. Establishment of effective governance, oversight, and accountability in the security system.
2. Improved delivery of security and justice services.
Both of these objectives have been pursued by civil society organizations such as the National Initiative to Rebuild the Police Force (NIRP) which aims for accountability of police officers who have killed protesters, replacement of “senior leadership of the security establishment,” and transparency regarding detainees. Disenchanted members of the police force have also pursued these objectives by forming officers’ organizations such as the General Coalition of Police Officers (GCPO) intent on “cleansing the police force of corrupt generals; enhancing work conditions, training, media and public relations; and increasing salaries and pensions.” Current police officers despise the fact that they are “paying the price” for crimes committed by former Mubarak loyalists and have expressed that they want “to save face and tell [the] people that [they] neither sold them nor killed them,” while also pursuing and end to attacks against police forces.
Reform of the MOI has been a challenge for Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi, as the executive office had little power when he assumed office. Since then he has slowly tipped the balance of power towards the civilian government and away from the military and security establishments, by annulling the Constitutional Declaration and removing many of the officers who established it. Moving forward, the Egyptian parliament must define “a clear legal framework and mandate for the security services that integrates established human rights norms.” The paper concludes with ten policy recommendations and states that “successful SSR separates democracies from autocracies; genuine democratization in Egypt hinges on the effective reform of its security sector,” and that “no democratic transition is complete without targeting abuse, eradicating torture, and ending the impunity of the security services, with effective and meaningful civilian control of both the armed forces and the security establishment.”