New Constitutional Declaration undermines rule of law in Egypt
The ICJ expressed its grave concerns regarding the new Constitutional Declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi on 22 November.
The President’s unilateral imposition of a constitutional framework on the Egyptian people, under which Constitutional Declarations, decisions, laws and acts taken by the President are shielded from any judicial review, undermines basic rule of law principles.
“Rather than establishing the rule of law and meeting the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people, President Morsi perpetuates the practices of the old regime by denying the rights of Egyptians to fully participate in the conduct of public affairs and to challenge executive decisions and actions”, said Said Benarbia, ICJ Senior Legal Advisor for the MENA Programme. “The Egyptian authorities must change course to ensure that the new Constitution is in line with international rule of law and human rights principles, and that the drafting and adoption process is transparent and inclusive.”
Under the Declaration, the President has arrogated to himself sweeping powers “to protect the goals of the revolution, including by tearing down the structure of the former regime, excluding its symbols in the state, society and the judiciary, and purging the Sate institutions”. All decisions taken by the President, since he took office and until a new Constitution is adopted and a People’s Assembly is elected, are characterized as “final and binding and cannot be appealed by any way or to any entity. Nor shall they be suspended or cancelled and all lawsuits related to them and brought before any judicial body against these decisions are annulled”.
The ICJ also expresses its concern about the impact of the new Constitutional Declaration and the decision of President Morsi to dismiss the Prosecutor General on the independence of the judiciary.
Under international standards, all disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings against members of the judiciary must be determined in accordance with well-established procedures that guarantee the right to a fair and transparent hearing and to an independent review.
Only an independent body can ensure the fairness of these proceedings, the ICJ stresses.
In a report published last week, the ICJ described how the Egyptian authorities have failed to ensure the drafting of a new Constitution in compliance with international principles of inclusive participation and transparency. The report concludes that the draft Constitution conflicts with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law.
Saïd Benarbia, Middle East & North Africa Senior Legal Adviser, ICJ, t +41 22 979 3817; e-mail: said.benarbia(at)icj.org
Alice Goodenough, Middle East & North Africa Legal Adviser, ICJ, t +41 22 979 3811; e-mail: alice.goodenough(at)icj.org