Egypt’s New House of Representatives: reform or annul presidential decrees to conform to international human rights standards

The ICJ today called on Egypt’s newly elected House of Representatives to amend or annul the web of repressive presidential decrees promulgated since the ouster of President Morsi.

“Egypt’s House of Representatives must dismantle the catalogue of repressive presidential decrees that have been used by the authorities to stifle dissent, curtail fundamental rights and freedoms and shield state officials from accountability in cases of human rights violations,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Programme.

Article 156 of the Egyptian Constitution provides that decrees issued by the President while the House of Representatives is not in session must be discussed and approved by the new House of Representatives within 15 days of it convening.

Failure to do so results in the laws being automatically nullified with retroactive effect.

The ICJ and others have detailed how many of these presidential decrees, including the Demonstration Law (No.107 of 2013), the Counter-Terrorism Law (No.94 of 2015), the Terrorist Entity Law (No.8 of 2015), the Law on Military Courts (No.136 of 2014) and laws amending the Criminal Code (No.128 of 2014) and the Prison Law (No.106 of 2015), violate Egypt’s obligations under international law.

Key concerns relate to the right to life, the right to liberty and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary detention, fair trial rights, and the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

These fundamental rights are protected by for instance the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Egypt ratified in 1982 and which today counts 168 states as parties.

Over the last two years, thousands of individuals have been prosecuted and convicted pursuant to such decrees, including the Demonstration Law, through proceedings that fell short of international fair trial standards.

Further, many of these decrees, in particular the Counter-Terrorism Law and the Demonstration Law, institutionalise the immunity of state officials from legal proceedings against any use of force committed in the course of their duties, including the use of lethal force when it is not strictly necessary to protect lives.

The decrees also fail to provide for any reparations mechanism for victims.

“Egypt’s parliament should, as a matter of urgency, ensure that those who have suffered human rights violations on the basis of these laws obtain effective remedy and reparations, remove all obstacles to justice and accountability, and address the impunity of state officials underpinned by these decrees”, Benarbia added.


Alice Goodenough, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +44 7815 570 834; e: alice.goodenough(a)

Nader Diab, Associate Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41 229 793 804; e: nader.diab(a)

Egypt-New House of Representatives-News-Press releases-2015-ARA (full text in Arabic, PDF)

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