Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on Monday condemning President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration.
The declaration, announced on Thursday, granted Morsy sweeping new powers. The HRW stated the declaration gives Morsy more power than the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) or even ousted President Hosni Mubarak. His opponents accuse him of abusing the legislative power he holds in the absence of a lower house of parliament.
“Egypt’s president now has more power than last year’s military rulers who used their position to violate human rights. And President Morsy has exempted himself from any independent judicial review,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, was quoted in the report as saying.
The report especially slammed articles 1, 2, 3 and 6 of the declaration. The articles breached the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Egypt has ratified.
Article 1 orders the retrial of all those implicated in killing protesters during the January 2011 revolution through a law known as the “Revolution Protection Law.” The law allows detention without trial of those accused of assaulting the protesters, or even charged with other violations of the penal code, for a period of up to six months.
The article also violates the ICCPR in the sense that article 14 (7) of the convention prohibits retrying someone for a crime they had already been convicted or acquitted of.
In Article 2 of the declarations, laws and decrees Morsy has issued since his inauguration in 30 June are immune from legal challenge, suspension or annulment. HRW described the article as “the most concerning feature with regard to human rights in the declaration,” adding that it clearly breached the ICCPR’s article 2(3). Article 2(3) states that “any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognised are violated shall have an effective remedy.”
Even when dismissing the prosecutor general through Article 3 of the declaration, Morsy went against the ICCPR, which states that; “the dismissal of judges by the executive … is incompatible with the independence of the judiciary.”
HRW also criticised Morsy for breaching Egypt’s judicial authority law through the same article. The law doesn’t give the president the right to dismiss or appoint the prosecutor general.
Article 6 gives Morsy the power to “take all necessary measures to address” any dangers that threaten “the January 25 revolution, the life of the nation, national unity, or the safety of the nation, or impedes a state institution from performing its role.” HRW described the article as being “broad and vague,” likening its language to that used in the repressive emergency law, enforced throughout Mubarak’s 30-year era.
Amnesty International also expressed their concerns surrounding the declaration, saying it heralds “a new era of repression.” Amnesty urged Morsy to “respect the principle that no one is above the law – including himself – by repealing recent amendments giving immunity to his decisions.”
Additional reporting by Luiz Sanchez