For Immediate Release: November 29, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First is concerned by the decision of the assembly drafting a new constitution for Egypt to conclude its work while stark differences over the contents of the draft remain unresolved.
“Rushing through a draft constitution over the legitimate objections of many Egyptians will not resolve the escalating political conflict in Egypt,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “In fact, it is likely to precipitate more violent conflict between supporters of Islamist groups that dominate the constitution drafting assembly and their opponents. Such conflict threatens to derail Egypt’s transition to democracy.”
The hasty completion of the draft is designed to forestall a decision by the Constitutional Court, scheduled for Sunday, that could invalidate the work of the drafting assembly. That too would be a severe setback for the democratic transition process, leaving the country without a clear roadmap leading to new elections to restore the parliament and to move beyond the uncertainty and instability of the transition period.
Human Rights First notes that President Morsi should use his authority to head off this crisis by insisting that the current draft of the constitution, which is deficient in its protections for human rights and the rule of law, should remain open to further input by representatives of different political factions and should be reviewed by an impartial panel of legal and constitutional experts before it is referred to a referendum for approval.
“President Morsi must reach out to his critics and political opponents in order to safeguard the democratic transition,” concluded Hicks. “If he fails to do so then further conflict will ensue.”