After a one-month holiday, Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives –convened on Sunday to discuss and vote on a batch of new laws.
Parliament approved amendments to six laws aimed at regulating the performance of a number of judicial authorities; the Supreme Constitutional Court (law 48/1979), the Administrative Prosecution Authority (law 117/1958), the State Cases Authority (law 57/1963), the Military Justice (law 25/1966), the Judicial Authority (law 46/1972), and the State Council (law 47/1972).
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the approval of these laws represents the first implementation of constitutional amendments passed by the House on 16 April and approved in a public referendum on 23 April.
A report prepared by parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee said that the amendments were necessary to bring the laws regulating these judicial authorities in line with the constitutional amendments.
“The committee has already reviewed the drafts of the amended laws as referred by the government and a report is expected to be discussed and voted on during the plenary session scheduled for 9 June,” said chairman of the committee Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa.
The referendum covered 12 constitutional articles, four of which—articles 185, 189, 190 and 193—deal with judicial authorities, the selection of the prosecutor-general, the State Council and the naming of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
With regards to the latter, said committee deputy head Ahmed Helmi El-Sherif, the amended article allows the chairman of the court to be picked by the president from among the court’s deputy heads.
The court’s commissioners will also be named by the president based on recommendation from the court’s chairman and according to the will of the court’s general assembly.
“This does not violate the independence of the court or infringe upon its powers,” said El-Sherif. “It gives the president a symbolic right: to name the head of this judicial authority based on nominations by members and the general assembly.”
The State Council Law (47/1972) has been redrafted in line with amended Article 190.
“The redraft details the mandate of the State Council; settling administrative disputes, disciplinary cases and appeals, revising draft laws and decrees,” said El-Sherif.
“Changes to the Judicial Authority Law (46/1972), in line with amended Article 189, state that the prosecutor-general is to be named by the president from three candidates nominated by the Higher Council for Judicial Authorities, and that the prosecutor-general’s term in office be four years.”
The two laws regulating the Administrative Prosecution Authority (117/1958) and the State Cases Authority were also redrafted in line with changes to Article 185 of the constitution allowing the president to name the authorities’ heads from among the most senior deputy heads.
“A Higher Council for Judicial Authorities will be created with the president as its head. In the case of the president’s absence, the head of a judicial authority will be delegated,” said El-Sherif.
Redrafted laws also regulate the performance of military courts (44/1966) in line with changes to Article 204.
“The redraft states that civilians can be tried before military courts only in cases involving crimes against military camps, in military zones and along borders, involving military equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, funds and army factories,” said El-Sherif.
Parliament also voted on Sunday in favour of increasing the pensions of retired military personnel by 15 percent (or EGP 150 as minimum and EGP 900 maximum).
"The increase will go into effect on 1 July 2019, and the Ministry of Finance said it will cover the new increase, and that pensions of retired military personnel represent only 8 percent of total pensions in Egypt," said a report prepared by parliament's manpower committee.
Parliament also approved amendments of a law (law 182/1960) aimed at fighting the trafficking of drugs.
A report prepared by the House's health affairs committee said the amendments are necessary to clamp down on new kinds of drugs and narcotics which infiltrated the Egyptian market in recent years. Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the new amendment was necessary in order to safeguard the people – particularly the young people – from the dangers of new kinds of drugs on their physical and psychological health.