Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court. File photo
Parliamentary members in the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party (ESDP) denounced the legislative amendments extending the authority of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to revise international rulings that may compromise Egypt's national security.
The amendments, approved in principle by the House of Representatives on Sunday, state in Article 27 that the SCC's jurisdiction will be extended to include rulings issued by international institutions and organisations, foreign court verdicts and international arbitration rulings which the government is required to implement.
The new Article of 33 also states that the prime minister will be empowered to refer the rulings specified by Article 27 to the SCC to revise their constitutional validity and see whether they can be ignored because of their breach of the constitution and lack of legislative legitimacy.
ESDP's MP Maha Abdel-Nasser said amendments to the SCC law will indeed put Egypt's international reputation at risk, insisting that rulings issued by international organisations and courts can't be ignored by the local authorities. "This is a law that will leave us in isolation from the entire world and show Egypt as if it is not respecting international rulings and foreign agreements which it has accepted and ratified," said Abdel-Nasser.
"The law also comes at a very bad time as we are trying our best to gather as much international support as possible for our case on the GERD (Grand Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam)," she added.
Abdel-Nasser also said that the amendments may give the opportunity for the Western media to portray Egypt negatively and dissuade investors from coming to the country.
"Therefore, I ask the government to withdraw this law and that the House invite international law experts to give their opinion on the amendments before we put them up for a final vote," said Abdel-Nasser.
Sanaa El-Said, another ESDP deputy, said "it would be better for the law to be amended to give the SCC the power to revise international rulings and agreements in advance and before being ratified by Egypt.
"In France, for example, the constitutional court revises laws and international rulings in advance," said El-Said.
El-Said argued that "it is by no means logical that the government drafts a law to give itself the right to ignore certain international rulings. It is better for the government to defend its case before international organisations and courts which might issue rulings against the country rather than draft a law to give itself the right to ignore them," said El-Said, warning that "the amendments to the SCC law would send a very bad message to foreign investors and could scare them away from coming to the country.
"How can foreign investors come to the country if they know that the government will ignore international rulings or that the rulings will not be implemented until the SCC gives a final say on them," asked El-Said.
Ibrahim El-Heneidi, the chair of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, told MPs that the amendments are meant to protect Egypt's economy. "The two new articles to the SCC law will give the SCC authority to revise international rulings, investigate their legitimacy, and see whether they are in line with the constitution," said El-Heneidi.
Besides, El-Heneidi said, the SCC should extend its jurisdiction to cover international rulings as long as they will be implemented in Egypt.
"But I also want to stress that the SCC verdicts on investment cases would not negatively affect Egypt's economic interests," he added