Next Wednesday, EOHR convenes a meeting of a committee of experts entitled “The Constitution of Egypt after the 30 June Revolution”
July 24th, 2013 by Editor
EOHR is holding a committee meeting of experts entitled “The Constitution of Egypt after the June 30 Revolution” on July 24, 2013, at 8 pm.
The meeting will focus on the last political developments which took place after the June 30 Uprising, the invalidation of the 2013 Constitution and the formation of a legal committee to revise the Constitution in accordance to the demands of the Egyptian people, which were not met in Constitution which was put into action earlier in 2013.
After the January 25 revolution in 2011, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces announced the suspension of the Egyptian Constitution which was issued in 1971. Then 6 articles were submitted to referendum in March 2011 and approved by the Egyptian people. Following it, SCAF issued a constitutional declaration awaiting the formation a new Egyptian parliament which will choose the member of the constituent assembly in charge of enacting a new constitution for the country.
There were divergences between the political forces about this road map. At the beginning, many political forces demanded to follow the same path that Tunisia in choosing firstly the members of the constituent assembly and in electing the parliament members and the President only after the Constitution is finished. The supporters of this path gathered under the slogan “The Constitution first” but the ones supporting that the parliament should be elected first won.
Members of the legislative power have been elected by the two Egyptian assemblies (the House of Representatives and Shura Council) and SCAF invited this new parliament to convene on March 3, 2011 in order to form the constituent assembly without constitutionality, and then formed the second constituent assembly. At this point, EOHR formed a constitutional platform including all the political spectrum, constitutional law professors, some party leaders, many parliament members and human rights activists. This platform aimed to draw up a new constitution for the country, to develop a set of amendment proposals involving all political forces and then to submit them to the constituent assembly as the thought of a group composed by Egyptian intellectuals and representatives of each political and ideological currents in the Egyptian society.
The platform concluded its work with a list of recommendations, brought to the constituent assembly, which did not pay attention to it. Therefore EOHR rejected the Constitution draft which followed the same approach that in the 1971 Constitution in using vague, non-specific and broad statements. The language used implies also a lot of ethical and moral implications changing its nature and threatening its cohesion, as well as maintaining the referral text on the constitutional rights and freedoms regulating by the law. It leads to loose constitutional value, as occurs in the Constitution of 1971. It assigns the same legislative infringement on constitutional rights, as the words “within the law” or “in accordance with law” are the shackles that limit the Constitution and also individuals.
The constitutional draft insisted on the survival of the Shura Council, despite of a popular and societal reject of it, as its boycott during the last election. The first goal of the constitutional draft should be to respond to the demands of the people and the intellectual elite in keeping only the House of Representatives. Respecting the people will is primordial. The draft did not restrict the broad powers of the President of the Republic, contributing to the making of a new “Pharaoh” for Egypt. He has the power to appoint the Prime Minister; it has also granted powers that he was not entitled to, as the appointment of members of the Supreme Constitutional Court. He also has the power to set the public policy of the State, to make speeches in front of the Parliament and he can’t be held accountable. It is reducing the role of the government to be the “secretary” of the President! Choosing the heads of regulatory agencies is a right reserved to the President. He also has the right to appoint civilian and military state employees, as well as political representatives. Thus the President decisions become “constituent decisions”, which violates the principle of independence of national institutions.
EOHR is holding this meeting of experts (who contributed to the reflection on the Constitution of 2013 and participated by their research papers in the discussions of the constitutional platform), to develop a set of recommendations which will be submitted to the legal committee formed to amend the Egyptian Constitution of 2013 in order to modify it consistently concerning the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the international conventions on human rights.
Hafez Abu Seada, Head of EOHR, explains that the formation of a legal committee to amend the constitution fits with the demands of the 30 June Revolution. It asked for the modification of the Constitution of 2013 drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood, away from all political forces and civil organizations, in order to ensure continuity to its governance and to control the reins of the power of the country. The Egyptian people rejected this hegemonic policy of the Brotherhood and came out in mass demonstrations to say no to their rule, as it said no to the dissolved National Democratic Party.
Abu Seada stressed that the amendment of the Constitution of 2013 is the first block to build the modern Egyptian state. It has to be done in a way matching with the international conventions and agreements concerning human rights and also with constitutions of democratic states. It has to guarantee the respect of the rights and freedoms of every Egyptian citizen and the rules of democracy and good governance.
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