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Rights group calls on Morsi to help 'lift siege' on Cairo court

Following decision of High Constitutional Court to halt activities due to mass protests by supporters of President Morsi, Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights calls on president to intervene

Ahram Online, Sunday 2 Dec 2012
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The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has expressed deep concern after hundreds of supporters of President Morsi forced the High Constitutional Court to halt its work on Sunday.

Protesters starting congregating late Saturday outside the court in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. They demanded the court delay its verdicts on the constitutionality of the Shura Council (upper house of parliament) and the Constituent Assembly, which were expected on Sunday.

This show of force took place after President Morsi on Saturday accepted the draft constitution and announced it would be put to a referendum on 15 December.

In response to the protest, the court said it would indefinitely halt all of its activities and postpone its sessions until a later date.

Hafez Abou Seada, the head of the EOHR, an independent non-governmental organisation, called on President Morsi to immediately intervene to "lift the siege" on the court.

On 22 November, President Mohamed Morsi issued a controversial constitutional declaration making the two bodies immune from dissolution and protecting his decisions from judicial appeal. He mentioned, however, that the declaration was a temporary measure to purge the judiciary of remnants of the Mubarak regime.  

The government should "maintain the separation of powers in order to protect the rule of law," Abou Seada said.

In a statement released Sunday, the EOHR said one of the principles of judicial independence was non-interference in the judiciary's work. The "disabling of the court [by the president's declaration] in this way is a crime against the rule of law," it added.

The constitutionality of the Shura Council and the Constituent Assembly are being investigated by the HCC after Egypt's parliamentary elections law was ruled unconstitutional.

The HCC had earlier ruled against the constitutionality of the lower house of parliament, leading to its dissolution.

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