'Offended' Liberal MP calls for investigation into lifting of NGO travel ban

Ahram Online, Saturday 3 Mar 2012

Amr Hamzawy demands parliament take action against government infringement on judiciary independence, questioning decision to allow accused US NGO workers to exit country leaving Egyptian counterparts to face charges

Amr Hamzawy
Amr Hamzawy (Photo: Al-Ahram archives)

Liberal parliamentarian Amr Hamzawy said Friday he was 'offended' by the way in which the decision to lift the travel ban on the foreign non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, accused of operating illegally, was executed. 

In an interview with Al-Nahar satellite TV channel, Hamzawy explained that there is confusion over why the unnamed appeal judge on Wednesday allowed the foreign nationals to exit the country leaving the Egyptian NGO workers, also accused, to face trial.

The parliament should investigate the recent developments in the NGOs' lawsuit, Hamzawy added, especially as there are allegations that the judiciary may have been forced to change their decision. In particular, Hamzawy requested that the parliament subpoena Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and the Minister of Justice Mahmoud Merei for pressuring the judiciary to lift the travel ban. He insisted that democracy cannot be accomplished without judicial independence. 

The three judges originally presiding over the case recused themselves on Tuesday "for reasons of discomfort" but failed to give any further details. This led to several judges accusing the head of the Court of Appeal, Judge Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, who made the announcement, of pushing them to step down.

Sixteen of the 43 people facing charges in the NGO lawsuit are US citizens. The NGO workers are accused of working in Egypt and raising US funds without appropriate government authorisation.

At least thirteen foreign NGO workers left the country on Thursday on a US military plane following the lifting of the trial ban last week.

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