Egypt Daily Update: Parliament Passes Controversial Judicial Authority Law

April 27, 2017

Parliament Passes Controversial Judicial Authority Law

National Council on Human Rights Calls for Pretrial Detention Review

Cartoon of the Day: Rising Food Prices

Top Stories

Parliament Passes Controversial Judicial Authority Law

On Wednesday, the Egyptian Parliament passed the controversial judicial authority law with a two-thirds majority, though many MPs objected to the debate and withdrew from the session,Egypt Independent reported. The law allows the president to appoint judiciary council heads from the three vice-chairs nominated by each judicial council. It applies to the state lawsuits authority, administrative prosecution, the Court of Cassation, and the State Council. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must now ratify the bill before it goes into effect.The bill has been controversial among judges since it was first approved by Parliament’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee last month. The Judges Club condemned the bill in March, describing it as a violation of the Egyptian judicial system that overrides the judiciary’s current system of appointing council heads based on seniority. Afterward, the State Council’s legislative department formally presented a report to Parliament outlining its objection to the bill, arguing that it would undermine the judiciary’s constitutionally-guaranteed independence. According to Egypt Independent, during Wednesday’s plenary session of parliament, “MPs were suddenly asked to vote on the draft law without any discussion of the observations mentioned in the report.”

In objection to the law, the State Council’s Judges Club announced that it would not supervise the upcoming parliamentary elections. In a statement, the Club wrote, “It will be recorded in history that the Parliament has demolished the independence of the judiciary and crashed the provisions of the Constitution for the sake of replaceable people.” According to Judges Club Chairman Samir al-Bahy, the government sought this amendment in order to move ahead with the Red Sea islands transfer agreement with Saudi Arabia; the new law would allow President al-Sisi to dismiss Head of the State Council Judge Yehia al-Dakroury—the judge who nullified the agreement in July 2016.

National Council on Human Rights Calls for Pretrial Detention Review

Egypt’s government-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) issued a statement marking the African Day of Preventive Detention and calling for a review of the pretrial detention period in Egypt. According to the NCHR, the current law is unsustainable because it causes overcrowding in detention cells and subjects innocent people to long stretches in prison.

The statement comes in the wake of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights’ call for pretrial detention reform and the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee’s initial consideration [Ar] of reducing the maximum pretrial detention length from two years to six months. Following Egyptian-American Aya Hijazi’s acquittal after being held in preventive detention for almost three years, the Committee’s Deputy Chair Ali Badr claimed [Ar] that reform was necessary in order to restore Egypt’s global reputation.

In other news, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid criticized Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on U.S. assistance to Egypt. The three witnesses—the Council on Foreign Relations’ Elliott Abrams, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski—all agreed that American military assistance to Egypt should be reassessed and further tied to the Egyptian government improving its human rights record. In a foreign ministry statement [Ar], Abu Zeid accused the witnesses of having a “lack of impartiality” and conducting an “intentionally negative reading of the situation in Egypt.” He also claimed that the hearing was “organized with the aim of harming the positive relationships binding Egypt and the current U.S. administration.”

Cartoon of the Day: Rising Food Prices

“Forget drugs, I’ve become rich just selling vegetables!”

Al-Masry Al-Youm04/25/2017

Also Worth Reading