Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (Cairo)

26 November 2012

Egypt: The Constituent Declaration Is an Affront to Egypt

press release

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) rejects the constitutional declaration issued on November 22, 2012. The declaration came as a serious violation against the rule of law. The declaration creates a new Egyptian pharaoh after January 25th revolution, which was aimed at confrontation of the authoritarian ruling.

EOHR decided to support its point of view against the constitutional declaration with texts quoted from the international standards of human rights, stressing on the principles of separation and balance of powers in addition to the independence of judiciary and the rule of law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that "all persons are equal before the courts". "No one shall be subjected again to be tried or punished for the crime he has already been convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country."

Legal Analysis:

Article 1:

Although, reopening the lawsuits of the revolution's victims is a demand of all the Egyptian groups, doing so without additional evidences is encroaching into the juridical power and a serious violation to the international standards on the independence of judiciary particularly the Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice issued by Montreal Conference in 1983. The president should have formed the truth and reconciliation commission instead.

Article 2:

Immune of the presidential president is a decision has not been taken even by president Mubarak; how president Morsi could do it after the Egyptian revolution. It abuses the balance of powers in Egypt and creates a new Egyptian pharaoh, which is incompatible with all the international norms, including the second article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 2 item 3) which states " Each State Party to the present Covenant:.

(A) To ensure that an effective remedy to any person whose rights or freedoms as recognized in the present Covenant, even if the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity,

(B) ensure that any person aggrieved as such to decide on the rights alleged to have been violated by a judicial or administrative or legislative authorities, or by any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, and to develop the possibilities of judicial remedy,

(C) To ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce such remedies when granted.

Article 5:

The declaration makes the current National Constitutional Assembly sacred despite the political power criticism and the dissolving lawsuit. The same was done with the holy Shura Council that is not constitutionally formed.

Article 6:

According to article 6 of the recent constituent declaration, the president can take all the required measures if he finds any dangers threatening the objectives and earnings of the 25th of January Revolution. The article enables the president to use an emergency law without providing any guarantees for respecting the freedom of expression or assembly, which violates Article 18, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states:

Article 18:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to adopt a religion, and freedom to profess any religion or belief of his choice, and freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, individually or in community with others and in public or private

No one shall be subjected to coercion which would impair his freedom to adopt a religion, or his freedom to profess any religion or belief of his choice.

May not be restrictions on the freedom to manifest religion or belief, only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety or public order, or of public health or morals or the rights and fundamental freedoms of others.

The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to respect the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to secure the education of their children religious and moral conformity with their own convictions.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom to seek various forms of information and ideas, receive and impart to others, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art or through any other media of his choice, exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article and special duties and responsibilities, and the It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but provided that the specific letter of the law and are necessary:

(A) For respect of the rights or reputations of others,

(B) For the protection of national security or public order, or of public health or morals.

Article 21: The right to peaceful assembly is recognized. May not be placed restrictions on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

As contrary as stipulated in Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitutional Declaration issued on March 30, 2011 that provide that:

Article 12: The State shall guarantee the freedom of belief and freedom to practice religion and freedom of opinion, and every person to express his opinion and to publicize it verbally, in writing or photography or other means of expression according to the law, and self-criticism and constructive criticism to ensure the safety of the national structure.

Article 13: Freedom of the press, printing, publishing and media is guaranteed, and the censorship of newspapers banned, warning, suspension or cancellation of the administrative remedy is prohibited and may be an exception in the case of emergency or in time of war be imposed on newspapers, publications and media censorship specific matters related to public safety or national security purposes, all in accordance with law.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that the recently issued constitutional declaration violates the rule of law, separation and balance of powers and takes Egypt backwards again. He affirmed that the Egyptian political and societal power must come together against this danger. Article 21 of the first constitutional declaration does not allow the president to have immune for his decisions. So, the second declaration does not comply with the first and that creates constitutional disorders. He also stated that instead of having a constitution respects the international standards of human rights, the president issued a constitutional declaration that is against the philosophy of democracy.

In this regard, EOHR calls upon president Morsi to undo the recently issued constitutional declaration and protect the achievements of the Egyptian revolution in addition to maintaining the Egyptian people's unity and solidarity.

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