Q&A – Between a Rock and a Hard Place: How Egypt’s Constitutional Amendments Erode Judicial Independence

Source: POMED – Project on Middle East Democracy

Author(s): Mohamed Al Ansary, Mahmoud Farouk, Ahmed Rizk

Original Link: https://pomed.org/qa-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-how-egypts-constitutional-amendments-erode-judicial-independence/

On February 3, 2019, 155 members of Egypt’s pro-regime parliament, by some accounts working in coordination with security agencies and the presidency, introduced 24 amendments to the constitution that was enacted in 2014. The amendments enhance Egypt’s authoritarian system and boost the power of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the military in particular. On February 14, the full parliament overwhelmingly approved the amendments in principle. On April 16, after a two-week “public dialogue”dominated by hand-picked, pro-regime figures and featuring almost no criticism, parliament approved the final language of the amendments with 531 out of 596 total MPs voting in favor of the changes. For the last step, the authorities are rushing the amendments to a public referendum to be held April 19–22. Turnout is anticipated to be very low as there has been no real public discussion about the amendments, and no organized opposition has been allowed; some 34,000 websites have been blocked by the government in advance of the referendum.

Much commentary has been focused on amendments enabling al-Sisi to extend his time in office to 2030. But other amendments would make far-reaching changes to the judiciary, further eroding its independence. Below is an overview of these four amendments by POMED’s Ahmed Rizk, followed by analysis from Egyptian legal experts Mohamed Al Ansary and Mahmoud Farouk.

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