Egyptian Political Parties and NGOs: First Court hearing on the annulment of the Assembly Law. Repealed colonial-era law’s continued enforcement is a travesty of justice.
Joint Press Statement
The undersigned political parties and rights defenders renew their call for the annulment of Law 10/1914 on assembly, known as the Assembly Law, and the publication of its 1928 repeal in the Official Gazette. We urge all concerned about justice and the rule of law to join the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and 23 public figures on Tuesday, April 4, as the Administrative Court hears their petition to have the law overturned. The continued enforcement of a colonial-era law, repealed 89 years ago, is a travesty of justice that infringes upon the fundamental rights of all Egyptians.
The petition is based on the CIHRS’ January 31st report “Toward the Emancipation of Egypt.” The report revealed that the colonial-era Assembly Law, enforced until the present time by Egyptians courts, was unanimously repealed by both chambers of the Egyptian Parliament 89 years ago. The Parliament found the statute to be unconstitutional, as it was issued by the British colonial authorities to suppress protest in the exceptional circumstances of World War I. After the war ended, the law was regarded as too undemocratic to be justified to the British public, and the Egyptian Parliament voted for its repeal. The Repeal Law was approved in the presence of a deputy minister of interior representing the government, who supported the repeal. It was then forwarded to the King, who did not veto it within the constitutionally prescribed period. Thus, the Repeal Law was issued under the 1923 Constitution in force at the time.
The findings of the report led 23 public figures involved in civil rights, politics, and trade union activities to join CIHRS and other lawyers in petition no. 26245/71JY. The petition addresses the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Industry, and the Chair of the General Authority for the official gazette, all in their official capacity. In addition, it seeks the official publication of the Repeal Law issued by the Egyptian Parliament on January 30, 1928, and all ensuing consequences of its issuance. CIHRS has released two guides in connection with the suit. The first, for parliamentarians, includes detailed answers to 20 questions raised by the media and other interested parties about the Assembly Law and the consequences of suspending its enforcement. The second guide was compiled for lawyers defending civil liberties cases involving assembly charges.
The undersigned reiterate that every additional day that the Assembly Law remains in force exacerbates the injustice perpetuated against the thousands of innocent people already imprisoned; constituting a further assault on the rule of law. In order to immediately end the wrongful imprisonment and penalization of Egyptian citizens under the repealed Assembly Law, we seek a stay on its enforcement by Egyptian courts pending a ruling on the petition by the Administrative Court. The judiciary has the right to temporarily refrain from enforcing the Assembly Law as part of its duty to review the formal integrity of legislation, given the fundamental changes that the petition could entail for cases involving assembly charges.
The six years following Egypt’s 2011 Revolution have been marred by the state’s systemic denial of fundamental civil rights to its citizenry. In the last three and half years especially, thousands were imprisoned for exercising their constitutional right of peaceful assembly. In addition to biased investigations and trials, the Assembly Law has played a major role in the lengthy mass sentences issued against demonstrators. The undersigned parties and organizations call for an end to the enforcement of a law repealed nearly a century ago, and for charges to be dropped against all currently penalized under it. The price of any further delay will be paid by all those unjustly imprisoned and others liable to join them unless this invalid law is overturned.
From the Political Parties
- Egyptian Social Democratic Party
- Bread and Freedom Party
- Egyptian Popular Current
- Dostour Party
From Civil Society Organizations
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- ADALAH Center for Rights & Freedoms (ACRF)
- Al-Haqqanya Foundation of Rights and Freedoms
- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
- Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
- Arab Penal Reform Organization
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
- Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
- Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS)
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
- El-Nadeem Centre for combating Violence and Torture
- Foundation of the Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance
- Haby Center for Environmental Rights
- Heliopolis Center for Political Development and Human Rights Research
- Hisham Mubarak Law Center
- Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination (MARD)
- Nazra for Feminist Studies
- The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
- The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)
- The Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies
- The Egyptian Observatory for Training and Consultation
- The Human Rights Legal Assistance Group
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