Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (Cairo)

31 December 2012

Egypt: Press Conference For New Book On Constitution

press release

On Monday, December 31, 2012, 12 pm, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) held a press conference discussed a new book entitled "New Democratic Constitution for All the Egyptian People".

The press conference, located at the headquarters of EOHR, was attended by media specialists, professors of law, parliamentarians, members of the National Constituent Assembly, public figures, representatives of the Egyptian political parties and civil society organization, especially those who have research papers included in the book.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that the Egyptian Constitutional Front was established in the shadow of drafting the Egyptian constitution by only one political power, which does not comply with the hopes of the Egyptian people after the revolution. The front was formed to be the constituent assembly that drafts the constitution desired by all the Egyptian people, not only the Islamists.

Mr. Abu Seada stated that the front provided the National Constituent Assembly with many drafting recommendations. Many of these recommendations were taken into consideration but some of these important recommendations were ignored. If the assembly took all the proposals of the civil society organizations into account, the Egyptians would not have got that constitution that does not use the terminology related to the international human rights standards and ignores the women's rights. The new constitution reduced the number of the Supreme Constitutional Court's members in order to dismiss certain members, on a personal basis.

Mr. Esam Sheha, attorney at law, board member of Al Wafd Political Party, stated that since the beginning of the constitution draft project, there were many attempts to gain control over the National Constituent Assembly, which led CSOs and independent lawyers to file lawsuits before the Egyptian Administrative Court to dissolve the assembly and form a new one including representatives of all the political powers and minorities. When the first constituent assembly was dissolved according to the court verdict, we found a new one with the same defects, but the other one stayed and the constitution passed. The second constituent assembly ignored the rights of women, children, judges, media specialists and professional syndicates. A newspaper corporation can be closed if one of its journalists made a mistake, according to the newly passed constitution. He also refused giving the Shura Council the power of issuing new laws like the election law, which have to be agreed on by all the political powers and minorities. He also criticized the articles related to the Supreme Constitutional Court that aimed at dismissing Judge Tahani Al Gibali, the first female judge in Egypt, personal reasons.

Mr. Ahmed Abdel Hafez, the vice president of EOHR, attorney at law, stated that he hoped to have the National Constitutional Assembly discussing all the constitutional proposals submitted by the political powers and NGOs. Many ideas related to freedoms and human rights that should be included in the Egyptian constitution, proposed by both liberals, seculars and Islamists together in EOHR headquarters before the revolution, were forgotten when the Islamists gained power after the revolution, he added. He also criticized the constitutional articles that violate the independence of the Egyptian judiciary especially those related to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

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