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Egyptian Judges: Proposed Constitutional Amendments Create Repressive, Autocratic Atmosphere
Top judges criticized the wording of the amendments on 34 constitutional articles recently drafted by the committee of constitutional and legislative affairs, particularly both articles 88 related to the judicial supervision on the elections and article 179 related to fighting terrorism. The judges considered the proposed constitutional amendments as a relapse from democracy, and a violation to
Sunday, March 11,2007 00:00
by Ikhwanweb

Top judges criticized the wording of the amendments on 34 constitutional articles recently drafted by the committee of constitutional and legislative affairs, particularly both articles 88 related to the judicial supervision on the elections and article 179 related to fighting terrorism. The judges considered the proposed constitutional amendments as a relapse from democracy, and a violation to the popular demands for reform and freedom, and lead to establishing a repressive and autocratic atmosphere.
 
Counselor Ahmed Makki, the deputy chief justice of the Court of Cassation, confirmed that the last wording of article 88 violated the commitment to the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court in 2000 regarding the real and full judicial supervision over the elections, and it emptied the judicial supervision from its meaning, that all measures of the election process take place under the supervision of the judge, according to the court ruling
.
Makki said that: The last wording of article 88 stipulates:" establishing a high commission to undertake the supervision of the elections, given that its members shall include current and previous members from judiciaries, to form the general committee that will supervise the constituencies and committees that will carry out the measures of voting and vote-count, and that the general committees will formed of members from judiciaries, and that the vote-count shall be carried out under supervision of the general committees".
 
"The serious point here is that certain judges shall be picked to do certain duties, something that triggers suspicions, especially that the judges are human beings who, like any human gathering, include the virtuous and the wicked; also, the judge picked will be at the mercy of the one who picked him" added Makki.
 
The deputy chief justice of the Court of Cassation confirmed that the regime wants the judges that to have a symbolic participation in the elections or, in other words, to be implicated through participating in the elections, while the ones managing the elections are outside the judges, the biggest threat to the fairness of the elections and the public trust and confidence in justice and reputation of Egypt.
 
Makki expected, under the absence of the judges supervision on the vote-count in the general committees which was applied before 2000, that the coming elections will witness a complete drafting of the voting cards in complete committees, and an unprecedented return to the ghost votes (of names of dead persons) in the elections.
 
Makki expected that the coming referendum on the proposed constitutional amendments that will take place early next month, will witness a flagrant rigging like what happened during the previous referendum on amending article 76.
 
Makki pointed out that the anti-terrorism article 179 is serious as it is conflicting with several articles in the current constitution, and is unprecedentedly inferiorating the president’s position, according to the wording of the article (second paragraph) which the People’s Assembly committee has recently formed, stating that : "The president has the right to transfers any terrorism crime to any judiciary prescribed by the constitution or law", explaining that this paragraph is flagrantly conflicting with three articles in the constitution in addition to its violating all international covenants in which Egypt was a signatory, as it contradicts with the text of article 73 stating that: " the president of the republic …. Shall maintain the limits between authorities in a manner to ensure that each shall perform its role in the national action.".
This makes the president a rival in the criminal claims, especially that the article gives him the right to read the case and form a view around it, bias towards the prosecution and refer the defendants to the court; consequently, we will witness many disagreements with the president in these cases and in the lawyers’ memos and pleading; this wording conflicts with the text of article 68 stating that " every citizen has the right to refer to his competent judge. ", and conflicts with article 166 stating that" No authority may intervene in judiciary cases or in the affairs of justice.", and it contradicts with the international covenants in which Egypt is a signatory regarding the right of every defendant to appear in front of a fair trial and that it isn’t permissible to assign a specific judge for a specific case, and that the trial should be specified according to bare legal rules ahead of specifying the task.
 
Makki concluded that all these violations devastate the principles of justice and leads to suspecting the rulings and even the president will be prone to suspicions.
 
For his part, counselor Mahmoud Reda Al Khodairi, the deputy chief justice of the Court of Cassation chief of the Judges’ Club in Alexandria told Ikhwanweb that the wording of article 88 of the constitution is a legalization of forging and rigging the elections; he said that the voting which is taking place inside the subcommittees is the core of the election process; "If the judges and members of the judiciaries were excluded, then farewell to fairness and transparency"; he adds that the government will need no more than 500 judges to supervise the elections in such a deformed manner.
 
Al Khodairi called on the judges to reject election supervision so as not to be entrapped in the vice of a symbolic incomplete judicial supervision and to avoid defaming the judges with the expected rigging. The deputy chief justice of the Court of Cassation demanded using employees, instead of judges, to supervise the elections but with an international supervision over them.
 
Al Khodairi confirmed that he frankly declares that with a complete and incomplete judicial supervision, there must be a foreign supervision; this foreign supervision doesn’t violate the sovereignty, because all major powers use an international supervision.
 
He pointed out to that the recent wording of article 179 will violate the rights of defendants and public freedoms of citizens and will strip the judiciary of supervising implementing the issued rulings, and everyone, including the judges, will be at the mercy of the police.

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