Draft Adopted Without Consensus Amid Political Crisis
(New York) – The final draft of a constitution approved on November 29, 2012, by Egypt’s 100-member constituent assembly protects some rights but undermines others. The constitution, approved in the midst of a political standoff between the president and the judiciary, provides for basic protections against arbitrary detention and torture and for some economic rights but fails to end military trials of civilians or to protect freedom of expression and religion.
The constitution drafting process has been extremely contentious, and a number of assembly members resigned in protest over what they said was the failure of the dominant Islamist factions to compromise on key issues, including the place of religion in affairs of state. The decision comes on the heels of President Mohamed Morsy’s controversial November 22 Constitutional Declaration immunizinghis decrees from judicial review.
“The decision of constituent assembly leaders to move a flawed and contradictory draft to a vote is not the right way to guarantee fundamental rights or to promote respect for the rule of law,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Rushing through a draft while serious concerns about key rights protections remain unaddressed will create huge problems down the road that won’t be easy to fix.”