On Sunday, February 12, 2017, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent a letter to Judge Mustafa Shafiq, the President of the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC), requesting the council to suspend enforcement of the Assembly Law (no.10/1914) pending a ruling from the Administrative Court on petition no. 26245/71JY. Any further punishment of Egyptian citizens under this British colonial law – officially nullified 89 years ago – is a flagrant infringement upon the fundamental precepts of justice, equity, and the rule of law. The SJC must act immediately to preserve the judiciary’s role as an impartial and just arbiter.
Filed on January 31st by CIHRS and 23 prominent lawyers, rights defenders, and political figures, the lawsuit seeks the Assembly Law’s suspension and the publication of its repeal in the Official Gazette. The lawsuit is based on the CIHRS report, Toward the Emancipation of Egypt, which documents how, throughout decades and until the present day, successive post-independence Egyptian governments have exploited the Assembly Law as the legal foundation for the incarceration and extrajudicial execution of tens of thousands of Egyptian citizens – simply for exercising their fundamental democratic right of peaceful assembly.
Law 10/1914 on assembly, issued 103 years ago by colonial authorities during World War I, was unanimously repealed by both chambers of the Egyptian Parliament in January 1928, a shocking fact exposed by the report. However, King Fouad I refused to publish the repeal law in the Official Gazette; allowing ostensibly nationalist governments to not only persistently apply this colonial relic after Egypt’s liberation from imperialist rule, but to actually strengthen its repressive capacities. As a result, the current regime under President is Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is able to punish citizens even more severely for peacefully assembling than the colonial authorities once did over a century ago.
CIHRS’ letter to the SJC follows its letter to Dr. Ali Abd al-Aal, the speaker of the House of Representatives, urging the Parliament to compel the executive to promulgate the Assembly Law’s repeal in accordance with the Egyptian Parliament’s unanimous decision to repeal it 89 years. An independent judiciary is the final line of defence against intrusion upon citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties; this defence must take precedence over the continued illegal application of the Assembly Law.
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