Court of Administrative Justice upholds Yara Sallam’s right to vote and exercise her political rights

Press Release

12 November 2015

The Court of Administrative Justice has affirmed the right of Yara Sallam, a staff member at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, to exercise her political rights and be included on the voters' lists. The court ruled that her conviction for participating in an unlicensed does not preclude the exercise of her political rights. In its ruling, the court said that the constitution considers citizens’ participation in public life to be a national duty and that it guarantees every citizen the right to vote and run in elections. The constitution requires the state to automatically include the name of every citizen who meets voting conditions on the voters' lists. Citizens who are convicted of sentences of imprisonment should not be denied the exercise of political rights except in crimes enumerated by the legislator, such as tax evasion, dismissal from government service due to a conviction for a crime involving breach of trust, or a final felony conviction. Accordingly, the administration may not refuse to enter a citizen on the voters' lists, since such a decision would contravene the constitution and law.

Yara Sallam was sentenced to two years in jail in case 17178/2014/Heliopolis appellate misdemeanor court on charges of unlawful demonstration and assembly. Although conviction for these crimes does not entail the denial of political rights—particularly the right to vote—on November 1, when attempting to find her polling station and number on the voters' lists, through the website of the Higher Election Committee, Sallam discovered that she had been disenfranchised due to the conviction. On November 2, she filed a petition with the chair of the HEC seeking her inclusion on the voters' lists, but was informed that the petition would only be considered after the elections were concluded. She then appealed the HEC decree with the Administrative Court of Justice on November 3.

The EIPR welcomes this ruling as a victory for citizens’ right to political participation. We hope that the HEC complies with the judgment by correcting other errors made against all persons convicted in similar cases. The EIPR stresses the duty of the HEC and other competent constitutional bodies to encourage citizens’ political participation and to lift all obstacles they face.

Attached: Text of ruling in appeal 6390/70JY, Yara Sallam vs. HEC( in Arabic)