One can read a lot about the Egyptian Constitution (English text follow link):
Zaid Al-Ali wrote a critical analysis and he wished finally a new and better constitution by dedicated democrats.
Mai El-Sadany wrote: “Military Trials for Civilians: Justice Denied”:
And ElBaradei complained:
“Egypt: renunciation of violence, transitional justice & national reconciliation based on inclusiveness. Anything short: exercise in futility.”
All this can make you very pessimistic!
Let me be more optimistic!
Each, even the best constitution in the world gets its value only if citizens can use it. What possibilities for using the constitution citizens have?
The citizens must rely on institutions of the state. However, the institutions and their employees are from the period of the dictatorship. Until all employees have learned that a modern constitutional state works differently than a dictatorship, it will be necessary to enforce ones rights. In addition to constitution, government and parliament, the judiciary is a very important pillar of modern states.
Because of the new constitution, all existing laws must be checked for constitutionality. This is not just a task of government and parliament. Every lawyer of an accused person will try to portray an old law as unconstitutional. Prosecutors should consider their indictment on constitutionality. Finally, the judge may need to allow an examination of the law in question before the Supreme Constitutional Court. The confidence in the Egyptian judiciary declined from 67% in May 2013 to 54% in September 2014. So, can you rely on the Egyptian judiciary?
You must not rely on the Egyptian judiciary!
The new Egyptian Constitution includes article 93:
„The state is committed to the agreements, covenants, and international conventions of human rights that were ratified by Egypt. They have the force of law after publication in accordance with the specified circumstances.”
This also applies to the African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights, also known as the Banjul Charter. Egyptians might accuse violations of these rights before an independent, international court!
African Convention on Human and Peoples’ Rights
At the time of accession, Egypt had entered a reservation on the implementation of articles 8 and 18/3; that these articles had to be implemented in the light of the provisions of Islamic Shari’a law and could not be in contradiction of the latter.
These restrictions contradict the new constitution and should be promptly overridden if the government takes the Constitution seriously.
Article 8 Banjul-Charta
„Freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.“
The restriction is contrary to article 64, freedom of religion, and article 53, prohibition of discrimination, of the Egyptian Constitution.
Article 18/3 Banjul-Charta
“The State shall ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women and also ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions.“
The restriction is contrary to the article 11, status of women, article 53, prohibition of discrimination, and article 80, children’s rights, of the Egyptian Constitution.
Simultaneously with the correction also unrestricted access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCtHPR) should be accepted. So far, Egyptians have full access to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which can make a submission to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. A declaration in accordance with Article 34.6 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights only facilitates the formal submission.
According to Articles 144 and 165 of the new Constitution, the President and the government swear to respect the constitution. The Banjul Charter is acknowledged in Article 93 and Article 94 describes Egypt as a state of law. So how can an Egyptian government deny direct access to AfCtHPR without branding itself as a regime of injustice before the whole world?
There is hope for Egypt!
On 01/05/2014 Ahram reported that the human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif considers the sentencing of his children Mona Seif and Alaa Abdel-Fattah politically motivated. He wants to appeal if necessary to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCtHPR).
Article 7 of the Banjul Charter provides the basis to obtain a fair trial. It does not matter if you will be brought to trial before a civilian or a military court. Whether an Egyptian received a fair trial, it is then judged by an international court.
Ahmad Seif starts a new phase of the Egyptian revolution: Enforcing the rule of law!
The AfCtHPR does not prevent injustice. But it delivers the democratic Egyptians the arguments to demand the rule of law. A sentencing of the State of Egypt helps the democrats, to win support of Egyptians and in the world!
International law can help the Egyptians to review the judiciary of the dictator!