A group of legal experts have called for limiting the presidential power to declare a state of emergency, saying the judiciary should oversee such declarations.
The call was among a list of recommendations set forward during a Sunday conference, organized by the Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession. The conference, attended by 200 judges and lawyers, focused on establishing and protecting the independence of judicial authorities in Egypt’s new constitution, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Tuesday.
The list of recommendations also asks for more transparency about the budget of the judiciary and its funders, in addition to recommending that the president and justice minister not have authority over judges, or the power to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council.
The recommendations were based on research papers presented by Judge Hesham Rauf, head of the Cairo Court of Appeals, Judge Ahmed Mekky, former vice president of the Court of Cassation, and lawyer Saber Ammar, assistant secretary general of the Arab Lawyers Union. Other contributors included Judge Mahmoud Mekky, head of the Mansoura Court of Appeals, and Hisham Geneina, head of the Cairo Court of Appeals.
Experts also said that the president should not have the power to transfer any lawsuit to a special, extraordinary or military court, nor to grant immunity for any administrative decision. They also said that there should be a separate section for the judiciary in Egypt’s new constitution that can establish an independent budget for the judiciary, capping its resources and allowed expenditures. Enshrining these principles, the experts said, should ensure that there are no opportunities for intervention in its decision-making.
The experts also called for all the existing judicial powers held by the head of state and justice minister to be transferred to the country’s top judicial bodies. All forms of influence on judges should be criminalized, they said, including that of reassigning judges to different positions in other state bodies.
Ordinary citizens should only be tried in civilian courts and the constitution should limit military trials to military personnel, the legal experts said. They also recommended the military judiciary be independent as well, disapproving of the president’s power to approve the verdicts of military courts.
The experts also said that the Supreme Judicial Council have the power of electing the attorney general, and that candidates for the position should be either the vice president of the Cairo Court of Appeals, vice president of Cairo Court of Cassation or a public prosecutor who had been in office for at least four years.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm