In a letter to the Speaker of the House:
CIHRS requests open public hearing with the Egyptian Parliament to discuss the Assembly Law
and submits a Q&A on the findings of its “Towards the Emancipation of Egypt” Report
REUTERS/Khaled Elfiqi/Pool (EGYPT – Tags: POLITICS) – RTR2WPY5
Bahey eldin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, Dr. Ali Abd al-Aal, yesterday on February 6, 2017, requesting that the Egyptian Parliament convene an open public hearing discussing the Assembly Law (no.10/1914). The hearing should be broadcasted live on television and attended by CIHRS representatives and lawyers representing the organization in the relevant lawsuit, as well as families of those victimized by the law. Hassan urged Parliament to assume its historic responsibility in addressing this major public issue, as the Assembly Law not only affects all three branches of the Egyptian government: the legislative, executive, and judicial; but has devastating impact upon the tens of thousands of Egyptians unjustly killed or imprisoned as a result of its enforcement. Thus far, the government has evaded questions from the media about the CIHRS report on the law, and has not responded to the request of several MPs that it issue a public statement on the status of the law.
CIHRS’ request for a public hearing to discuss Assembly Law follows its lawsuit, filed in conjunction with 23 prominent lawyers and political figures, seeking the publication of the Assembly Law’s repeal in the Official Gazette and, in turn, an immediate and absolute end to the law’s enforcement. The lawsuit is based on CIHRS’ report Toward the Emancipation of Egypt, which found that Law 10/1914 was repealed 89 years ago by both houses of the Egyptian Parliament. CIHRS attached a FAQ guide to its letter to address 20 Frequently Asked Questions about the report, including the questions and reactions of various parliamentarians such as the chair of the House Committee on Legislative and Constitutional Affairs.
First and foremost, what would happen if the Administrative Court orders the executive to enact the Assembly Law’s repeal? First, persons sentenced under the Assembly Law who have served their full sentence would have the right to sue the state for damages resulting from its failure to publish the repeal in the Official Gazette. Second, persons currently imprisoned under the Assembly Law alone would see their sentences overturned if the law’s repeal is published. For persons convicted of multiple crimes in which the Assembly Law acted as the principal basis of their conviction, their sentences would be reduced. Persons convicted under the Assembly Law are often also convicted of crimes under the Protest Law (no.107/2013) and the Penal Code. Both the Protest Law and the Penal Code are generally more favorable to defendants; for the unlike the Assembly Law, which legalizes the concept of collective liability, they require proof of criminal liability for each person.
The FAQ further summarizes the circumstances surrounding original issuance of the Assembly Law by British colonial authorities 103 years ago, followed by the irrefutable evidence of its unanimous repeal by both houses of the Egyptian Parliament on January 30, 1928. The FAQ also reveals that it is the Assembly Law—not the better-known Protest Law—which primarily acts as the legal basis for the extrajudicial killing and mass sentencing of participants in public assemblies.
Hassan concluded his letter to the speaker of the House by calling upon the Egyptian government to no longer delay justice, “Now that CIHRS has exposed this historical, legal, and political fact shame; the culpability for every new day spent in prison by the victims of this law, as well as the suffering of their families, will lie with all institutions and officials who had the power to redress this historic injustice yet did nothing.”
For the text of the message sent to the Speaker of the House, Dr. Ali Abd al-Aal, see bellow
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