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Egypt

Comparing Egypt's 1971 constitution to today

On December 15, Egyptians will vote in a referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution.
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2012 18:07

1971 constitution

2012 proposed constitution

Analysis

Foundations of the state

Article 2: Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. Principles of Islamic law [shari'a] are the principal source of legislation.

Article 2: Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. Principles of Islamic law [shari'a] are the principal source of legislation.

This article was left unchanged, much to the satisfaction of Egypt's opposition. It references the very nebulous "principles of shari'a"; some Islamists, particularly salafi groups, had pushed for a stricter application of Islamic law.

Womens rights

Article 10: The state shall guarantee the protection of motherhood and childhood, take care of children and youth and provide suitable conditions for the development of their talents.

Article 11: The state shall guarantee harmonization between the duties of woman towards the family and her work in the society, ensuring her equality status with man in fields of political, social, cultural and economic life without violation of the rules of Islamic jurisprudence.

Article 10: The state shall ensure maternal and child health services free of charge, and ensure reconciliation between the duties of a woman toward her family and her work. The state shall give special care and protection to working women, divorced women and widows.

Article 11: The State shall protect ethics, morality and public order.

Activists had pushed to remove the language about "the duties of a woman."

National Defence Council

Article 182: A council shall be established, the National Defense Council, to be presided by the President of the Republic, which shall undertake the examination of the matter pertaining to the methods of ensuring the safety and security of the country. The law shall prescribe its other competences.

Article 197: A National Defense Council shall be created, presided over by the President of the Republic and including in its membership the Speakers of the House of Representatives and the Shura Council, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Interior, the Chief of the General Intelligence Service, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, the Commander of the Navy, the Air Forces and Air Defense, the Chief of Operations for the Armed Forces and the Head of Military Intelligence.

The President of the Republic may invite whoever is seen as having relevant expertise to attend the Council's meetings without having their votes counted.

The new constitution codifies the membership of the 15-member National Defence Council, which reviews the army budget and laws related to the armed forces.

Seven of the 15 members are military officers, including the defence minister, who (according to the constitution) must come from the armed forces. The head of general intelligence is a civilian, though historically the agency has always been headed by an ex-military man.

Military budget

Not mentioned.

Article 197: The Council is responsible for matters pertaining to the methods of ensuring the safety and security of the country and to the budget of the Armed Forces. It shall be consulted about draft laws related to the Armed Forces. Other competencies are to be defined by law.

The new constitution explicitly gives the National Defence Council — not the elected parliament — control over the army budget.

Military trials

Article 193: The law shall regulate the military judiciary, and define their competences in the framework of the principles in the Constitution.

Article 198: Civilians shall not face trial before military courts, except for crimes that harm the armed forces. The law shall define such crimes and determine the other competencies of the military judiciary.

Earlier drafts had explicitly banned military trials for civilians. But the final version allows them under limited, and ill-defined, circumstances.

Freedom of religion

Article 46: The State shall guarantee the freedom of belief and the freedom of practice of religious rites.

Article 43: Freedom of belief is an inviolable right. The state shall guarantee the freedom to practice religious rites and to establish places of worship for the heavenly religions, as regulated by law.

The constitution only protects freedom of religion for Muslims, Christians and Jews, which could codify discrimination against minority groups like the Baha'i.

Al-Azhar

Not mentioned.

Article 4: Al-Azhar is an encompassing independent Islamic institution, with exclusive autonomy over its own affairs, responsible for preaching Islam, theology and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world. Al-Azhar ulema are to be consulted in matters pertaining to Islamic law.

Some Egyptians worry that giving Al-Azhar a constitutional role could politicize the institution, encouraging politicians to appoint scholars who support their views.

Media

Article 48: Freedom of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed. Censorship on newspapers is forbidden. Warning, suspension or abolition of newspapers by administrative means are prohibited.

However, in case of declared state of emergency or in time of war, limited censorship may be imposed on newspapers, publications and mass media in matters related to public safety or for purposes of national security in accordance with the law.

Article 48: Freedom of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed. The media shall be free and independent to serve the community and to express the different trends in public opinion, and contribute to shaping and directing in accordance with the basic principles of the State and society, and to maintain rights, freedoms and public duties, respecting the sanctity of the private lives of citizens and the requirements of national security.

The closure or confiscation of media outlets is prohibited except with a court order. Control over the media is prohibited, with the exception of specific censorship that may be imposed in times of war or public mobilization.

Article 49: Freedom to publish and own newspapers of all kinds is a guaranteed subject of notification for every natural or juridical Egyptian person. The establishing of radio stations, television broadcasting and digital media is regulated by law.

Term limits

Article 77: The term of the Presidency is six Gregorian years starting from the date of the announcement of the result of referendum. The President of the Republic may be re-elected for other successive terms.

Article 133: The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years, commencing on the day the term of his predecessor ends. The President may be reelected only once.

The old constitution allowed presidents to serve unlimited terms; the new one limits the president to two.

Freedom of expression

Article 47: Freedom of opinion is guaranteed. Every individual has the right to express his opinion and to disseminate it verbally, in writing, illustration or by other means within the limits of the law. Self-criticism and constructive criticism is a guarantee for the safety of the national structure.

Article 31: Insulting or showing contempt toward any human being shall be prohibited.

Article 44: Insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets shall be prohibited. Article 45: Freedom of thought and opinion shall be guaranteed. Every individual has the right to express an opinion and to disseminate it verbally, in writing or illustration, or by any other means of publication and expression.

Equality/discrimination

Article 40: All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.

Article 33: All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination.

Human rights activists wanted the constitution to explicitly list the grounds on which discrimination is prohibited.

International treaties

Article 151: The President of Republic shall conclude treaties and communicate them to the People’s Assembly, accompanied with a suitable clarification. They shall have the force of law upon being concluded, ratified and published according to established procedure.

Article 145: The President of the Republic shall represent the State in foreign relations and shall conclude treaties and ratify them after the approval of the House of Representatives and the Shura Council. Such treaties shall have the force of law after ratification and publication, according to established procedures. Approval must be acquired from both Legislative Houses with a two-thirds majority of their members for any treaty of peace, alliance, trade and navigation, and all treaties related to the rights of sovereignty or that make the State Treasury liable for any expenditures not included in its overall budget. No treaty contrary to the provisions of the Constitution shall be approved.

Child labour

Not mentioned.

Article 70: Child labor is prohibited before passing the age of compulsory education, in jobs that are not fit for a child's age, or that prevent the child from continuing education.

This provision, which explicitly allows some forms of child labour, has been controversial with human rights activists.

Torture

Article 42: Any person arrested, detained or his freedom restricted shall be treated in such a manner that preserves his human dignity. No physical or moral harm shall be inflicted upon him.

Article 36: Any person arrested, detained or whose freedom is restricted in any way, shall be treated in a manner preserving human dignity. No physical or moral harm shall be inflicted upon that person. Only places that are humanely and hygienically fit, and subject to judicial supervision, may be used for detention.

Arrest and detention

Article 41: Individual freedom is a natural right and safeguarded and inviolable. Save for the case of being caught red-handed, no person may be arrested, inspected, detained or his freedom restricted or prevented from free movement except under an order necessitated by investigations and preservation of the security of the society. Such order shall be given by the competent judge or the Public Prosecution in accordance with the provisions of the law. The law shall determine the period of custody.

Article 35: Except in cases of flagrante delicto, no person may be arrested, inspected, detained or prevented from free movement except under a court order necessitated by investigations. Any person arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons in writing within 12 hours, be presented to the investigating authority within 24 hours from the time of arrest, be interrogated only in the presence of a lawyer, and be provided with a lawyer when needed.

The person arrested or detained, and others, have the right of appeal to the courts against the measure of arrest. If a decision is not provided within a week, release becomes imperative.

The law regulates the rules for temporary detention, its duration and its causes, and cases of entitlement to compensation, whether for temporary detention or for a sentence carried out that a court final ruling has revoked.

Banning the NDP

n/a

Article 232: Leaders of the dissolved National Democratic Party shall be banned from political work and prohibited to run for presidential or legislative elections for a period of 10 years from the date of the adoption of this Constitution. Leadership includes everyone who was a member of the Secretariat of the Party, the Policies Committee or the Political Bureau, or was a member of the People’s Assembly or the Shura Council during the two legislative terms preceding the 25 January revolution.

2005

Source:
Al Jazeera
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