Egypt Independent

HRW: Morsy decree undermines rule of law

Human Rights Watch

slammed President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration on Monday, saying it undermines the rule of law and invites the abuse of freedoms.

If Morsy were to pass a law violating human rights, victims would have no means to challenge the law based on the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration or other constitutional precedents, the rights body said in a statement.

The decree appears to give the president the power to issue emergency-style “measures” at any time for vague reasons and without declaring a state of emergency, the statement added.

The president also issued a law ordering new investigations into suspects believed to be responsible for violence against protesters. However, HRW warns, the law also creates a new court to prosecute people under vaguely-defined and overly-broad laws dating from ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s era which have historically allowed for abuse, including prosecuting people for insulting the president or the judiciary.

Some of the declaration’s articles also seem to interfere with the independence of the judiciary, the rights group said.

“Egypt is in serious need of judicial reform but decreeing that the president rule by fiat is no way to achieve it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

“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,” Whitson added in the statement.

The seven-article declaration renders all the president’s decrees and laws — from when he took office on 30 June until the ratification of a new constitution — immune from appeal or cancellation. It also protects both the Shura Council and the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly from dissolution by any judicial authority, and further protects the assembly by extending its mandate to draft the constitution to eight months instead of six, as stipulated in an earlier constitutional declaration.

Two cases against the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly are currently awaiting a court ruling, but those cases will now be voided by the declaration.