Why I said no to the constitution


I read the new constitution first as an ordinary citizen and then as a lawyer. In particular, I was looking for anything that might affect the independence of the judiciary, for if we are to protect citizen rights and punish criminals, the protection of our judiciary is key. I do not claim to have absorbed every detail when I read the draft constitution, but I did get a good sense of it.

Although many of the articles are controversial, the main reason I voted “no” was because of article 233 which states: “The first High Constitutional Court, once this constitution is applied, shall be formed of its current president and the ten longest-serving judges among its members. The remaining members shall return to the posts they occupied before joining the court.”

Knowledgeable insiders tell me that the decision to decrease the number of High Constitutional Court (HCC) members to ten from 19 is a political move to specifically eliminate HCC General Assembly member Judge Tahani El-Gebaly who is known for her bold opinions.

n July 2012, the HCC issued a ruling suspending President Mohamed Morsi’s decree reinstating the People’s Assembly (parliament’s lower house) – a verdict that marked a climax in the tension between the executive authority and the Muslim Brotherhood from one side, and part of the judicial authority on the other.

As the demonstrations and sit-ins in front of the HCC show no sign of ending, judges continue to feel worried that their safety is threatened. This endless conflict also a matter of general concern because the ringleaders are clearly more interested in retaliation than in the public welfare.

translated from Al Ahram

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