Administrative court agrees to refer protest law to constitutional court

Elsayed Gamal El-Deen, Tuesday 17 Jun 2014

Protesters demonstrate against protest law
Protesters demonstrate against protest law in Talaat Harb Square, Cairo, Egypt, Nov 27, 2013 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Cairo administrative court agreed to refer a case challenging the constitutionality of a controversial protest law which sent hundreds of demonstrators to jail in the past few months to the country's Supreme Constitutional Court.

Two rights groups, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and The Centre to Support the Rule of Law, had jointly filed a case against the law, saying it deprived citizens of their constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Rights lawyer Khaled Ali argued the case in court saying articles 8 and 10 of the protest law violated the 2014 constitution.

The 2014 charter grants citizens the right to protest peacefully.

Article 8 requires a written notification to police at least three days ahead of demonstrations, processions or public meetings.

Article 10 grants Interior Ministry officials the right to ban any protest or public meeting on the basis of “serious information or evidence that there will be a threat to peace and security.

Egyptian law stipulates that plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of legal codes must first convince the country's adminstrative court of the strength of their arguments.

Local and international rights groups have condemned the law, which prohibits unauthorised demonstrations and specifies lengthy jail terms and heavy fines for violators.

The law, passed in November 2013, has been used to quash protests by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and secular opposition groups.

Moreover, a number of non-Islamist activists who played a prominent role in the January 2011 uprising are also facing trial or serving prison sentences for violating the protest law.

The controversial law was issued during the interim one-year term of former president Adly Mansour, who has now returned to his original post as head of the constitutional court. 

Judicial sources have indicated that Mansour will not preside over the case nor attend deliberations in order to avoid conflict of interest.

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