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Egypt's parliament provisionally approves banning judges from standing in sporting clubs’ elections

Lawmakers express concern over maintaining the neutrality of judges

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 21 Nov 2017
Egyptian Parliament "Reuters"
Egyptian Parliament "Reuters"
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In a surprising step, Egypt's parliament gave quick approval on Tuesday of a new law stating that judges cannot stand in the election of board members of sporting clubs.

The law, an amendment of the sports law (law no.71/2017), was submitted by MP and Secretary-General of parliament’s Sports and Youth Committee Fawzi Fatta.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the draft law will be referred to the state council to be revised in constitutional and legislative terms.

MP Fatta said Articles 6 and 21 of the sports law will be amended in accordance with the new decision, and that sporting clubs should adjust their regulations to align with it within six months.

Fatta said the ban on judges from running in club election is based upon constitutional grounds.

“Judges are the ones who take charge of supervising the elections of the board members of sporting clubs and so it is by no means constitutional that they run in the elections they supervise,” Fatta said, adding that “judges should remain independent and refrain from involvement in activities that could negatively affect their independence.”

Fatta also said his legislative amendment came after a judge running for the post of the head of the Heliopolis Club in East Cairo directed insults towards the parliament.

“We now see a judge who has allowed himself to run in an election that violates his independence and who discussed political issues during campaigning,” he said.

Minister of Sports and Youth Khaled Abdel-Aziz said it is very bad that candidates running in the current elections of sporting clubs discuss political issues during campaigning.

“The ministry sent letters to all sporting clubs, notifying them that political activities are legally banned in their clubs,” the minister said.

Abdel-Aziz said “on behalf of the Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Heliopolis Club, I apologise for all the insults which were directed at parliament and its speaker.”

“Parliament did a very good job passing a new sports law and it is very bad that a candidate who is also a judge directs such insults to parliament,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Parliament speaker Abdel-Aal agreed that judges' running in sporting club board elections might negatively impact their independence and neutrality.

“A judge can’t be both head of a sporting club and a head of a court at the same time,” he said.

Abdel-Aal said he would sue the Heliopolis judge if evidence was enough that he insulted parliament and its speaker.

“I saw a video footage that shows the judge insulting parliament in an election conference but this is not enough to take the necessary legal measures against him,” Abdel-Aal said.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan said the Higher Council for Judges recommended in 1996 that judges do not stand in the elections of sporting clubs.

“This recommendation came in order to keep judges away from activities that might adversely affect their independence and neutrality,” Marawan said.

The elections of board members of sporting clubs in Egypt will be held next Friday, with campaigning currently in effect.

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