30 November 2012

Egypt: Final Draft Text of New Constitution

Photo: Xinhua/STR
Protesters gather at Tahrir square during a demonstration against president Muhammad Morsi in Cairo.

The final draft constitution has been approved by the constituent assembly late last night. It is now ready for referendum by the mid of December.

The final draft constitution rules several political principles, including that the official religion of the country is Islam and that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source for legislation.

Al-Azhar is an independent institution and its opinion is taken on affairs related to the Islamic Sharia. Al-Azhar's grand imam is unshakable, it stipulates.

The political system is based on the principles of democracy, consultation, pluralism, peaceful power transition, separation between powers and respect of human rights.

No political parties may be established on the basis of discriminating between the people over their sex, origin or religion.

As for economic principles, the draft says that the national economy aims to achieve integrated development, ensure social justice, solidarity and welfare, safeguard the rights of workers, ensure a fair distribution of wealth, raise the standard of living, eradicate poverty and unemployment and increase employment opportunities.

The national economy's goal is also to ensure equitable sharing of the revenues, link pay to production, lessen the disparities between incomes by introducing a maximum wage and guaranteeing a minimum wage, all to ensure a decent life for every citizen.

Agriculture is a main component of the national economy, the draft also says.

All types of natural wealth belong to the people, and the people are entitled to the returns. The state is committed to maintain and properly use such wealth without prejudice to the rights of future generations. All financial assets without owners are deemed owned by the state.

The Nile River and groundwater resources are national wealth. The State is committed to preserve, protect and develop them.

According to the draft constitution, workers hold a share in the management and profits of projects, and are committed to the development of production. Workers make up fifty percent of the membership of elected boards of directors in the public sector, and eighty percent of the membership of boards of directors in cooperatives, agricultural and industrial societies.

Private property is inviolable. It performs a social duty in serving the national economy without any kind of deviation, exploitation or monopoly. Private property may not be sequestrated except in cases defined by law and through a court order. Such property may not be confiscated except for the public good and against a fair compensation to be paid in advance. The right to inheritance is guaranteed, all as regulated by the law.

General confiscation of funds is prohibited, and specific confiscation may not be carried out except by a judicial order.

Part II - Public rights, freedoms and duties:

Human dignity is a right that all persons are entitled to. Society and the state guarantee that human dignity receives respect and protection. No citizen may be subjected to contempt or humiliation.

Personal freedom is a natural right that is guaranteed and inviolable.

With the exception of cases of flagrante delicto, no person may be arrested, searched, incarcerated, deprived of freedom in any way and/or confined unless by virtue of an order issued by a competent judge.

Any person whose freedom is restricted is provided with reasons in writing within twelve hours, and shall be referred to the investigating authority within twenty-four hours as of the time such person's freedom is restricted, and shall not be interrogated except in the presence of the person's attorney. Otherwise an attorney is to be named.

Any person who is detained or whose freedom is restricted may appeal before the courts against said measures. The matter must be decided within one week. Failure to do so will result in an immediate release of the detainee.

The law governs the duration and reasons of the pretrial detention, cases of pretrial that require compensation, and cases in which compensation is due for the execution of a penalty in a case where a second judgment is made to cancel the first.

Any person placed under arrest or detained or whose freedom is restricted in any way shall receive treatment that respects human dignity. Such person may not be subjected to intimidation, coercion and/or physical or mental abuse. No person may be detained or arrested unless placed in a humanly decent and healthy place that is subject to judicial supervision.

Any person responsible for the occurrence of any of the aforementioned shall be punished in accordance with the law.

Any confession proved to have been made under any of the aforementioned circumstances or under threat are deemed null and void.

The freedom of belief is guaranteed. The state guarantees the freedom to establish houses of worship for divine religions in a manner to be governed by law. Defaming the messengers and prophets of Allah is prohibited.

Freedom of thought and opinion are guaranteed. Each individual has the right to express thoughts and opinions verbally, in writing, by illustration or through any other means of publication and expression.

The freedom of the press, printing, publication and all other media channels is guaranteed and the censorship of publications is prohibited. Exceptions may be made at times during which a state of war is declared where newspapers, publications and media channels will be subjected to limited censorship.

The freedom of issuing and owning all kinds of newspapers by natural and legal persons is guaranteed on the condition that notification is provided. The establishment of radio and television broadcasting stations as well as digital media channels is governed by law.

The participation of citizens in public life is a national duty. All citizens have the right to elect, run for elections and state opinion in referenda.

The state guarantees the soundness and impartiality of the election process. The state shall, in the database of electors, include the names of citizens satisfying the conditions required for electing, without a need for a relevant request to be submitted.

The state guarantees the extension of due care to veterans, persons injured during or as a result of war, and families of martyrs of and persons injured during the 25 January Revolution and in the course of performing national duty. Such persons, as well as their children and spouses, take priority over others with respect to employment opportunities as regulated by law.

No individual may be a member of both the upper and lower houses of parliament at the same time, the draft constitution stipulates.

The Court of Cassation shall be competent to decide upon the validity of membership of Parliament members provided that challenges are to be referred to the court within a period that does not exceed thirty days from the date of announcing the final results of the elections. The court must decide the matter within sixty days from the date on which it receives the appeal.

A decision on revoking membership shall be issued by a majority vote of two-thirds of the chamber to which the member belongs.

Any member of Parliament and their family members shall submit to the relevant chamber financial disclosures every year and when commencing or leaving the job. If any members receive financial or in-kind gifts, the ownership of such gifts shall be transferred to the public treasury of the State.

Excluding a case of flagrant delicate, no Member of Parliament may be subject to criminal procedures except with a prior permission by the chamber to which such member belongs. If the Parliament is not in session, permission shall be taken from the chamber's secretariat and the chamber shall be notified of the decision as soon as the chamber is in session.

Parliamentary sessions shall be public. However, a meeting in camera may be held at the request of the President of the Republic, or the Prime Minister, or at least twenty members. The Parliament, shall then decide whether the debate on the question submitted thereto shall take place in a public meeting or in a meeting in camera.

The lower house of parliament may make a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister or any of the Prime Minister's deputies or any of the Ministers. A motion of no confidence shall not be made except after a question is addressed, and upon the proposal of one-tenth of the Council's members.

The President of the Republic may not dissolve the lower house unless such action is deemed necessary, provided that the President provides a reasoned decree and after calling a public referendum.

The President shall issue a decree to halt sessions and offer a referendum within twenty days. Should the majority of participants in such referendum approve such solution, the President calls voters for new elections within thirty days from the date of issuing the decision of dissolution and the council convenes within ten days following the completion of elections.

In all cases, the lower house cannot be dissolved during the session of the first year.

The President shall be elected for a four-year term, and shall not be re-elected except for one additional term. Measures taken for the new presidential elections shall start at least ninety days before the expiration of the current presidential term.

The person to be elected President shall be an Egyptian citizen born to Egyptian parents and enjoy civil and political rights. Such person may not be married to a non-Egyptian.

The person's age shall not be less than 40 years on the date of announcing the beginning of candidature.

For an applicant to be accepted as a candidate to presidency, such applicant shall be supported by at least 20 elected members from the two chambers of the Parliament, or supported by at least twenty thousand eligible voters from at least ten governorates, with a minimum of one thousand endorsements from each governorate.

The President is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. He can declare war, after consulting the National Defense Council and upon the approval of the lower house of parliament.

The President cannot send armed forces outside the State except upon the approval of the majority of the members of the lower house.

The President can proclaim a state of emergency, after having obtained the approval of the government.

Such proclamation must be submitted to the lower house within seven days so that the parliament may take a decision. In case of prorogation, the parliament shall be called to convene immediately to review such proclamation without prejudice to the date set in the previous paragraph. In case of dissolution, the proclamation of the state of emergency decision shall be submitted to the upper parliament, and must be approved by the majority of its members.

The draft constitution stipulates the formation of a National Defense Council to be presided by the President, saying its membership should include the speakers of both chambers of parliament, the prime minister, ministers of defense, interior affairs, foreign affairs and finance in addition to head of the general intelligence service, the Chief of Staff, commanders of the Navy and Air Forces and Air Defense, the Chief of the Armed Forces Operations and Chief of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance.

Council shall examine matters pertaining to the methods of ensuring the safety and security of the country. The minister of defense is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

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