Rights Groups File Urgent Lawsuit against Presidential Decree
This morning 25 Egyptian advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit before the Court of Administrative Justice seeking the annulment of the President’s decree issuing a new constitutional declaration on 21 November and an expedited injunction suspending the decree. The suit (no. 9252/67JY) asks that a hearing on the petition, filed with the first circuit (rights and liberties), be set as soon as possible.
Based on principles established in rulings of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Constitutional Court, the organizations argue that the President’s decree is not a constitutional declaration, but in fact an administrative decree subject to administrative judicial review, particularly since judicial review as exercised by the courts regardless of their purview is a general precept grounded in the principle of legitimacy, the rule of the law and the state’s subordination to the law.
The lawsuit added that the President’s decree did not include provisions for sovereign acts exempted from judicial review—those acts related to the system of governance or the political administration of the state—but rather “a set of despotic provisions that undermine judicial independence, erode sovereignty of the law as the basis of governance, and suspend the right to access to courts by retroactively immunizing all actions of the head of the executive authority from judicial review. The provisions also subvert the principles of criminal justice and the right to fair trial and interfere in the course of justice by preventing judicial bodies from considering cases pending before them.”
The lawsuit states that by issuing the contested decree the President has assumed all state powers. He is the supreme head of the executive by way of elections and holds the reins of legislative authority out of necessity given the absence of the dissolved People’s Assembly. Now the President has arrogated to himself the constituent authority to issue such a declaration, and he has undermined the pillars of the judiciary and robbed it of independence by obscuring its mandate on one hand and interfering with and controlling its decisions on the other.
The entirety of provisions contained in this so-called constitutional declaration represents a flagrant infringement of constitutional rights and liberties and fundamental principles long entrenched in the conscience of Egyptians, and its unilateral issuance constitutes a gross violation of popular sovereignty, which is the source of all powers.
The petition is available in Arabic here
1. Arab Program for Human Rights Activists
2. Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
3. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
4. Arab Foundation for Civil Society Support
5. Egyptian Association for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions
6. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
7. United Group, lawyers and legal advisors
8. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
9. Arab Penal Reform Organization
10. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
11. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
12. Center for Trade Union and Workers Services
13. New Woman Foundation
14. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
15. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
16. Human Rights Legal Aid Group
17. Andalus Center for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
18. Land Center for Human Rights
19. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
20. Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
21. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
22. Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development
23. Hisham Mubarak Law Center
24. Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination
25. Nazra for Feminist Studies