Egypt’s Empowered Prosecution and Threats to Fair Trial Guarantees

Source: The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

Author(s): Nourhan Fahmy

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Legally defined as acting in the interest of the public, the public prosecution has always been a critical juncture in the Egyptian criminal justice system. As the body that initiates investigations, presses charges, and refers suspects to trial, it has been the topic of extensive study, debate, and criticism. In recent years, the appointment, mandate, and role of the public prosecution has had a significant impact on fair trial guarantees and the rule of law more generally.

The importance of this issue has been particularly underscored in the last few years in light of recent developments, including the 2019 amendments that normalized executive interference in the appointment of the public prosecutor and the rising influence of the State Security Prosecution. Prosecutors have been empowered by the current regime’s counter-terror policies and a vast pool of legislation that—in part—has expanded or facilitated the prosecution’s powers. Adequate legal guarantees that put limits on prosecutorial discretion, foster prosecutorial independence, and protect the rights of detainees have not materialized amid this trend.

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