On the Anniversary of the world Day of Human Rights, EOHR submits a set of recommendations to the government and People’s Assembly

December 10th, 2009 by Editor

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses its deepest worries on the continued deterioration for the status of human rights system as a result for the present policies , strategies and legislative structure  which restrict rights and freedoms which is not consistent with Egypt’s membership of the International Council for Human Rights , so EOHR submitted a set of recommendations to the government , People’s Assembly and Shura council   On the Anniversary of the World Day of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the tenth of December 1948 .  EOHR  recommends the following :

 

 

First: Strengthen the process of political participation and management of public affairs

  

1. The need to amend the law of exercising   political rights, No. 73 of 1956, as amended by Law 173 of 2005 to ensure the supervision of  local organizations on the electoral process, besides the international supervision, which requires legislative amendment to legalize this issue

as that makes the process of monitoring the elections and referendums by the organizations in a national and international legal framework, and to ensure that these organizations supervise inside and outside committees , also it is necessary to make the process of counting votes in public and allowing candidates and their representatives and organizations to attend the process of counting ballot boxes as the counting process will be in the electoral premises and to deliver a copy of each counting list to candidates and their representatives.

  

In this regard, EOHR calls for passing a new law of exercising political rights as a result to the change of circumstances which the law issued in. It is worth noting that EOHR offered a new bill replacing the law of exercising political rights under the title of ” The law of General Elections and Referendum” which included such conditions of exercising political rights, registering in the electoral roll, the competent side for running elections , organizing the process of elections and referendum , electoral propaganda and electoral crimes and punishment. The bill adopted a group of  former members of the parliament as EOHR previously offered a bill on combating corruption for electoral campaigns , this bill included the following : 

 

* The need to identify expenses of electoral campaigns.
* Criminalization of electoral bribery.
* The need for setting a limit for  the  spend on  electoral campaigns.
* The candidate should open a bank account in an  approval bank to  deposit all  funds allocated to his campaign, and all contributions received in this account, and disbursements are under the supervision of a Certified Public Accountant.
 

  
* The candidate is committed   to present all financial treatments  to the High Electoral Commission related to the electoral process supported with documents after the electoral process.

  

EOHR  re-offers its bill ( general elections and the referendum, anti-corruption) to the parliament in its new session with a view to adoption.

 

 
2. Amendment of Article 76 of the Constitution which has to be amended to guarantee wider participation of independent and parties candidates with simple conditions, the article provided that ” President of the republic is elected through direct and secret ballot and the need to accept the nomination for the Presidency of the Republic by 130 members of People’s Assembly and Shura council and local councils including at least 20 members of People’s Assembly And Shura council and the members of local councils have to be representatives of  at least 10 governorates. Also to amend article 77 of the Constitution which is related to the presidential period.

  

– To amend the law of Shura council No. 120-1980 as amended by Law No. 176 of 2005, with regard to the method of selecting its members and its powers, as EOHR confirmed that the Shura Council is considered no more than  like a specialized national councils without any competences or powers , so the constitutional amendment should include the amendment for the law of Shura council and to state its right to add or amend in the public balance of the state and to allow it with the power of legislation and monitoring as in constitution 1923 . As for its formation, all its members should be chosen by direct and free election rather than appointing one-third as the case is now and to elect its president  and two deputies from the Council and its office from its elected members.

  

– Enacting  a new bill on local administration, allowing the consolidation of the decentralization of governance and give a wide powers to the authorities and local bodies in various districts of the republic to reach good governance .

  

– The necessary to work with the system of unconditioned proportional list   because it guarantees the preservation of the voting bloc and strengthen the political role of political parties at rates that reflect their electoral power,  and to work on establishing equality between the right of independents and parties to form their proportional lists . The amendment should include the guarantee of fair representation of women within the parliament while the individual system wastes 49% of the votes cast for the candidate who receives 51% of the votes.

  

Second: The right to assembly and organization

  

1. The abolition of the Political Parties Law No. 40 of 1977, and amendments by Law 177 of 2005, and to enact  a new law on political parties include the following rules :

  

-Establishing political parties through notification.

– Banning the establishment of parties  and organizations of military formations or semi-military, or based on religious grounds, or ideological, or sectarian, or ethnic principles .

– The freedom of parties to form any numbers of partisan newspapers and the freedom to hold meetings , seminar and conferences without the need to get prior permission from the concerned bodies.

 

– Parties rely for  funding on the contributions of its members and donations, and unconditioned   grants and the support from the state balance , while adhering to standards of transparency and accountability.

 

Parties shall be exempted from all taxes and charges relating premises , newspapers and other activities with exempting donations granted from Egyptians from the qualitative tax bases.

  

2- Releasing an alternative law replacing Law No. 84 -2202 as it is considered an obstacle to the work of non-governmental organizations and hinder the development of civil society development, taking into account the draft law prepared by EOHR and Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies and a number of other organizations in November 2008, as an alternative to the current law No. 84 of 2002, which is based on international standards on human rights, particularly as regards the right to organize.

 
3. Abolishing  law No. 100 of 1993, known as the “Guarantees of democracy of  trade union organizations” as amended by Law  No. 5 of 1995, and to apply the right of every union to set the law that organizes its activities .

 

4- Adding amendments to the Trade Unions Law No. 35 of 1976, as amended, by Law No. 1 of 1981 and No. 12 of 1995.

 

Third: Personal Freedoms and Protection from Torture

1-Amending some Articles on torture in the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure, previously the Egyptian Organization have asked to adopt these amendments in 2003, focusing on the following themes :

 

– Amending the crime of torture in Egyptian law according to international conventions, so that to include a definition of the crime of torture, consistent and contained in the Convention Against Torture, which Egypt ratified in 1986 in order to combat impunity. The Organization also asked to harsher punishment for the perpetrators of torture crimes and the inadmissibility of the use of clemency and extenuating circumstances of the penalty. Moreover, EOHR demanded the effectuation of the right of victims to file a direct criminal lawsuit against the perpetrators of torture crimes. The draft law demanded amending some Articles among them; Articles 126, 129, 280 of the Penal Code, articles 63, 232 Code of Criminal Procedure .[1]

2-Not to hurry to issue the anti-terrorism law; the Egyptian legislation does not need a new law to combat terrorism, as there is a law already, Act No. 97 of 1992. But as the government wanted to pass a new law to combat terrorism, it must rely primarily on the balance between the protection of human rights and combating terrorism, especially regarding the right to fair trial, the inviolability of private life and the commitment to the Berlin Declaration, issued in August 2004, which includes many obligations to be accomplished by States to protect human rights whilst combating  terrorism. And also the implementation of Security Council resolution No. 456 1 (2003) and 1624 1 (2005) and General Assembly resolutions 57/219 and 58 / 187 59 / 191, as well as the strategy of the United Nations of Global Counter-Terrorism. In addition, there is a need to rely on the guarantees the rights of the accused in the Egyptian constitution and law, particularly regarding the right to fair trial and protection of privacy. At the same time, the authors of the new legislation to combat terrorism should not be prejudice to such rights as part of the Egyptian international commitments.[2]

 

3- To revise Article 179 of the Constitution, because it will lead to the “constitutionality” of a state of emergency, which will eventually lead to violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens. This is inconsistent with the Constitution’s being free of any provisions detract the proper protection of human rights and also with the need to judiciary prior control over elimination any special procedures for counter-terrorism and respect for the rights of defense.

 

4-Lifting of the state of emergency imposed since 1981 under the Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958 because of its harmful effects on the human rights system in Egypt and disrupting the peaceful ways of democratic development in the society. Declaring the state of emergency must be confined only to the case of actual war and public disasters, and for a limited period not to be renewed unless under limited pre defined conditions,  and under the real and effective control of the legislative authority, which guarantees to return to normal constitutional legality and natural law.

 

5-The Egyptian government should ratify all international mechanisms for human rights and international instruments against terrorism and implementing them, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

 

Fourth: The right to a fair trial

 

Modifying law No. 25 of 1966 to be confined only to the trial of military personnel accused of crimes and crimes which happen within the units and military barracks. And amending the Judicial Authority Law to ensure the real independence of the judiciary from the Executive authorities. Although the Constitution provided in Articles 165 and 166, the independence of the judiciary and judicial system, but actually the reality refers to the contrary, where the executive authority has wide executive powers restricting the independence of the judiciary and the judicial authority.

 

Fifth: Freedom of opinion and expression

 

The cancelation or limitation of Egypt’s reservations to the international conventions related to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the press, as such reservations lead to the possibility of breaching the conventions through national legislation. The abolition of imprisonment for publishing crimes that the president had promised to abolish, in February 2004 , should be fulfilled, in order to promote freedom of the press and media, and sufficing to fine penalties with a ceiling of such fines, especially as affected by the publication enjoys the right to reply in the same newspaper and to civilian prosecution seeking appropriate compensation before a civil courts. It is also crucial to revise all legislation relating to freedom of expression, publishing and printing, which are distributed in several laws, including the Press Law, the Penal Code, the law regulating the press, the law of State documents, the law of civil servants in the state, the prohibition of military news and military provisions, the law of parties and the law of intelligence[3]. It is also important to enact a draft law for freedom of information and its circulation. This draft should reflect international standards for democratic societies.

 

Sixth: Economic and social Rights

 

 Calling on the Egyptian government to join and ratification of the conventions on the protection of male and female workers, and the need to activate the role of the Ministry of Manpower with regard to investigating complaints of workers whose rights were violated by their employers, and to find out an effective means of enforcement of judgments in favor of workers, and work to make temporary employment permanent, either in the formal or  informal sectors.

 

Amendments to the Unified Labor Law No. 12 of 2003 to achieve a balance between the interests of workers and employers, taking into account the levels of income and livelihood of citizens. And guaranteeing freedom of forming labor union organizations, associations bonds and NGOs that organize, defend and foster the interests of the working class.

 

Opening community dialogue about health insurance proposed bill by having an open discussion on it with the participation of various political parties and civil society organizations. The new Law should include all citizens without adding new burdens on them as well as guaranteeing the right of the unemployed to obtain the health insurance service for free. It also should provide the necessity to work on improving the service through the recruitment of competent physicians and nurses, construction of hospitals equipped with the latest equipment .

 

The government should review its housing policies by enabling low-income and poor people to enjoy the right to adequate housing where there are privacy, safety and standards of healthy housing. as well as providing financial and material compensation to the victims of forced evictions and demolition of houses and also it should find suitable alternatives for people living in those houses, and develop a comprehensive plan to remove the slums, which can not be developed, and supply new cities with basic utilities and services.

 

 

 


[1]  The EOHR UPR report, august 2009

[2]   See Hafez Abo Seeda and Nashwa Nashaat, Combating Terrorism Observatory.. message and content  (Cairo: Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the EU, May, 2009) Page 22.

[3]  See the annual report of EOHR 2005

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