FACTBOX l Public rights, freedoms and duties in Egypt's new constitution

Saturday 11-01-2014 02:35 PM
FACTBOX l Public rights, freedoms and duties in Egypt's new constitution

Men wait in line outside a polling station in Cairo May 23, 2012. Egyptians queued patiently to vote on Wednesday, eager to pick their leader for the first time in a national history dating to the pharaohs, with Islamists and secular-minded rivals who served under deposed President Hosni Mubarak heading the field - REUTERS/Ammar Awad


Egyptians will vote on a new constitution on Tuesday. Below are the articles concerned with the rights, freedoms and duties of citizens in this new constitution:

Chapter Three: Public Rights, Freedoms and Duties

Article 51 Human dignity

Dignity is a right for every person that may not be infringed upon. The state shall respect, guarantee and protect it.

Article 52 Torture

All forms of torture are a crime with no statute of limitations.

Article 53 Equality in public rights and duties

Citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, sex, origin, race, color, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason.

Discrimination and incitement to hate are crimes punishable by law.

The state shall take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination, and the law shall regulate the establishment of an independent commission for this purpose.

Article 54 Personal freedom

Personal freedom is a natural right which is safeguarded and cannot be infringed upon. Except in cases of in flagrante delicto, citizens may only be apprehended, searched, arrested, or have their freedoms restricted by a causal judicial warrant necessitated by an investigation.

All those whose freedoms have been restricted shall be immediately informed of the causes therefor, notified of their rights in writing, be allowed to immediately contact their family and lawyer, and be brought before the investigating authority within twenty-four hours of their freedoms having been restricted.

Questioning of the person may only begin once his lawyer is present. If he has no lawyer, a lawyer will be appointed for him. Those with disabilities shall be provided all necessary aid, according to procedures stipulated in the law.

Those who have their freedom restricted and others possess the right of recourse before the judiciary.

Judgment must be rendered within a week from such recourse, otherwise the petitioner shall be immediately released.

The law shall regulate preventive detention, its duration, causes, and which cases are eligible for compensation that the state shall discharge for preventative detention or for execution of a penalty that had been executed by virtue of a judgment that is overruled by a final judgment.

In all cases, the accused may be brought to criminal trial for crimes that he may be detained for only in the presence of an authorized or appointed lawyer.

Article 55 Due process

All those who are apprehended, detained or have their freedom restricted shall be treated in a way that preserves their dignity. They may not be tortured, terrorized, or coerced. They may not be physically or mentally harmed, or arrested and confined in designated locations that are appropriate according to humanitarian and health standards. The state shall provide means of access for those with disabilities.

Any violation of the above is a crime and the perpetrator shall be punished under the law.

The accused possesses the right to remain silent. Any statement that is proven to have been given by the detainee under pressure of any of that which is stated above, or the threat of such, shall be considered null and void.

Article 56 Supervision of prisons

Prison is a house for reform and rehabilitation.

 Prisons and detention centers shall be subject to judicial oversight. All that which violates the dignity of the person and or endangers his health is forbidden.

The law shall regulate the provisions to reform and rehabilitate those who have been convicted, and to facilitate a decent life once they are released.

Article 57 Private life

Private life is inviolable, safeguarded and may not be infringed upon.

Telegraph, postal, and electronic correspondence, telephone calls, and other forms of communication are inviolable, their confidentiality is guaranteed and they may only be confiscated, examined or monitored by causal judicial order, for a limited period of time, and in cases specified by the law.

The state shall protect the rights of citizens to use all forms of public means of communication, which may not be arbitrarily disrupted, stopped or withheld from citizens, as regulated by the law.

Article 58 Inviolability of homes

Homes are inviolable. Except in cases of danger, or if a call for help is made, they may not be entered, searched, monitored or wiretapped except by causal judicial warrant specifying the place, time and purpose thereof. All of the above is to be conducted in cases specified by the law, and in the manner prescribed. Upon entering or searching homes, those inside shall be notified and informed of the warrant issued in this regard.

Article 59 Right to safety

Every person has the right to a secure life. The state shall provide security and reassurance for citizens, and all those residing within its territory.

Article 60 Inviolability of the human body

The human body is inviolable. Any assault, defilement or mutilation thereof is a crime punishable by law.

Organ trafficking is forbidden, and no medical or scientific experiment may be performed thereon without the documented free consent of the subject, according to the established principles of the medical field as regulated by law.

Article 61 Tissue and organ donation

Donation of tissues and organs is a gift of life. Every human has the right to donate his body organs during his lifetime or after his death by virtue of a documented consent or will. The state commits to the establishment of a mechanism to regulate the rules for organ donation and transplant in accordance with the law.

Article 62 Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement, residence and emigration is guaranteed.

No citizen may be expelled from state territory or banned from returning thereto.

No citizen may be banned from leaving state territory placed under house arrest or banned from residing in a certain area except by a causal judicial order for a specified period of time, and in cases specified by the law.

Article 63 Forced migration

All forms of arbitrary forced migration of citizens are forbidden. Violations of such are a crime without a statute of limitations.

Article 64 Freedom of belief

Freedom of belief is absolute.

The freedom of practicing religious rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of revealed religions is a right organized by law.

Article 65 Freedom of thought

Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed.

All individuals have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, imagery, or any other means of expression and publication.

Article 66 Freedom of research

Freedom of scientific research is guaranteed. The state shall sponsor researchers and inventors and protect and work to apply their innovations.

Article 67 Artistic and literary creation

Freedom of artistic and literary creation is guaranteed. The state shall undertake to promote art and literature, sponsor creators and protect their creations, and provide the necessary means of encouragement to achieve this end.

No lawsuits may be initiated or filed to suspend or confiscate any artistic, literary, or intellectual work, or against their creators except through the public prosecution. No punishments of custodial sanction may be imposed for crimes committed because of the public nature of the artistic, literal or intellectual product. The law shall specify the penalties for crimes related to the incitement of violence, discrimination between citizens, or impugning the honor of individuals.

In such cases, the court may force the sentenced to pay punitive compensation to the party aggrieved by the crime, in addition to the original compensations due to him for the damages it caused him. All the foregoing takes place in accordance with the law.

Article 68 Access to information and official documents

Information, data, statistics and official documents are owned by the people. Disclosure thereof from various sources is a right guaranteed by the state to all citizens. The state shall provide and make them available to citizens with transparency. The law shall organize rules for obtaining such, rules of availability and confidentiality, rules for depositing and preserving such, and lodging complaints against refusals to grant access thereto. The law shall specify penalties for withholding information or deliberately providing false information.

State institutions shall deposit official documents with the National Library and Archives once they are no longer in use. They shall also protect them, secure them from loss or damage, and restore and digitize them using all modern means and instruments, as per the law.

Article 69 Intellectual property rights

The state shall protect all types of intellectual property in all fields, and shall establish a specialized body to uphold the rights of Egyptians and their legal protection, as regulated by law.

Article 70 Freedom of the press

Freedom of press and printing, along with paper, visual, audio and digital distribution is guaranteed.

Egyptians -- whether natural or legal persons, public or private -- have the right to own and issue newspapers and establish visual, audio and digital media outlets. Newspapers may be issued once notification is given as regulated by law. The law shall regulate ownership and establishment procedures for visual and radio broadcast stations in addition to online newspapers.

Article 71 Freedom of publication

It is prohibited to censor, confiscate, suspend or shut down Egyptian newspapers and media outlets in any way. Exception may be made for limited censorship in time of war or general mobilization.

No custodial sanction shall be imposed for crimes committed by way of publication or the public nature thereof. Punishments for crimes connected with incitement to violence or discrimination amongst citizens, or impugning the honor of individuals are specified by law.

Article 72 Independence of press institutions

The state shall ensure the independence of all press institutions and owned media outlets, in a way that ensures their neutrality and expressing all opinions, political and intellectual trends and social interests; and guarantees equality and equal opportunity in addressing public opinion.

Article 73 Freedom of House

Citizens have the right to organize public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest, while not carrying weapons of any type, upon providing notification as regulated by law.

The right to peaceful, private meetings is guaranteed, without the need for prior notification. Security forces may not attend, monitor or eavesdrop on such gatherings.

Article 74 Freedom to form political parties

Citizens have the right to form political parties by notification as regulated by the law. No political activity may be exercised or political parties formed on the basis of religion, or discrimination based on sex, origin, sect or geographic location, nor may any activity be practiced that is hostile to democracy, secretive, or which possesses a military or quasi-military nature.

Parties may only be dissolved by a judicial ruling.

Article 75 Right to establish associations

Citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations and institutions on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality upon notification.

They shall be allowed to engage in activities freely. Administrative agencies shall not interfere in the affairs of such organizations, dissolve them, their board of directors, or their board of trustees except by a judicial ruling. 

The establishment or continuation of non-governmental organizations and institutions whose structure and activities are operated and conducted in secret, or which possess a military or quasi-military character are forbidden, as regulated by law.

Article 76 Right to form syndicates

The establishment of federations and syndicates on a democratic basis is a right guaranteed by law.

Such federations and syndicates will possess legal personality, be able to practice their activities freely, contribute to improving the skills of its members, defend their rights and protect their interests.

The state guarantees the independence of all federations and syndicates. The boards of directors thereof may only dissolved by a judicial ruling.

Syndicates may not be established within governmental bodies.

Article 77 Trade unions

The law shall regulate the establishment and administration of professional syndicates on a democratic basis, guarantee their independence, and specify their resources and the way members are recorded and held accountable for their behavior while performing their professional activities, according to ethical codes of moral and professional conduct.

No profession may establish more than one syndicate. Receivership may not be imposed nor may administrative bodies intervene in the affairs of such syndicates, and their boards of directors may only be dissolved by a judicial ruling. All legislation pertaining to a given profession shall be submitted to the relevant syndicate for consultation.

Article 78 Housing

The state guarantees citizens the right to decent, safe and healthy housing, in a way that preserves human dignity and achieves social justice.

The state shall draft a national housing plan that upholds environmental particularity, and guarantees the contribution of personal and collaborative initiatives in its implementation. The state shall also regulate the use of state lands and provide them with basic facilities, as part of a comprehensive urban planning framework for cities and villages and a population distribution strategy. This must be done in a way that serves the public interest, improves the quality of life for citizens and preserves the rights of future generations.

The state shall draft a comprehensive, national plan to address the problem of informal areas that includes providing infrastructure and facilities and improving quality of life and public health. The state shall also guarantee the provision of necessary resources to implement the plan within a specified time frame.

Article 79 Food

Each citizen has the right to healthy, sufficient amounts of food and clean water. The state shall provide food resources to all citizens. It also ensures food sovereignty in a sustainable manner, and guarantees the protection of agricultural biological diversity and types of local plants to preserve the rights of generations.

Article 80 Rights of the child

A child is considered to be anyone who has not reached 18 years of age. Children have the right to be named and possess identification papers, have access to free compulsory vaccinations, health and family care or an alternative, basic nutrition, safe shelter, religious education, and emotional and cognitive development.

The state guarantees the rights of children who have disabilities, and ensures their rehabilitation and incorporation into society.

The state shall care for children and protect them from all forms of violence, abuse, mistreatment and commercial and sexual exploitation.

Every child is entitled to early education in a childhood center until the age of six. It is prohibited to employ children before they reach the age of having completed their primary education, and it is prohibited to employ them in jobs that expose them to risk.

The state shall establish a judicial system for child victims and witnesses. No child may be held criminally responsible or detained except in accordance with the law and the time frame specified therein. Legal aid shall be provided to children, and they shall be detained in appropriate locations separate from adult detention centers.

The state shall work to achieve children’s best interest in all measures taken with regards to them.

Article 81 Rights of the disabled

The state shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and education rights of dwarves and people with disabilities. The state shall provide work opportunities for such individuals, and allocate a percentage of these opportunities to them, in addition to equipping public utilities and their surrounding environment. The state guarantees their right to exercise political rights, and their integration with other citizens in order to achieve the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunities.

Article 82 Youth

The state guarantees the care of youth and young children, in addition to helping them discover their talents and developing their cultural, scientific, psychological, creative and physical abilities, encouraging them to engage in group and volunteer activity and enabling them to take part in public life.

Article 83 The elderly

The state shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural and entertainment rights of the elderly, provide them with appropriate pensions to ensure them a decent standard of living, and empower them to participate in public life. The state shall take into account the needs of the elderly while planning public utilities. It also encourages civil society organizations to participate in caring for the elderly.

All the foregoing takes place as organized by law.

Article 84 Sports

The state guarantees the right of everyone to practice physical sports. State institutions and society shall work to discover and sponsor gifted athletes and take necessary measures to encourage the practice of sport.

The law shall regulate the affairs of sports and civil sports bodies in accordance with international standards, and how to settle sporting disputes.

Article 85 Right to address public authorities

Each individual has the right to address public authorities in writing and in signature. No address shall be made in the name of groups except for legal persons.

Article 86 Duty to safeguard national security

Preservation of national security is a duty, and the commitment of all to uphold such is a national responsibility ensured by law. Defense of the nation and protecting its land is an honor and sacred duty.

Military service is mandatory according to the law.

Article 87 Citizen participation in public life

The participation of citizens in public life is a national duty. Every citizen has the right to vote, run in elections, and express their opinion in referendums. The law shall regulate the exercise of these rights.

Performance of these duties may be exempted in cases specified by the law.

 The state shall enter the name of every citizen in the voter registration database without request from the citizen himself, once the citizen meets voting requirements. The state shall also purge this database periodically in accordance with the law. The state guarantees the safety, neutrality and fairness of referendum and election procedures. The use of public funds, government agencies, public facilities, places of worship, business sector establishments and non-governmental organizations and institutions for political purposes and electioneering is forbidden.

Article 88 Egyptians living abroad

The state shall protect the interests of Egyptians living abroad, protect them, guarantee their rights and freedoms, enable them to perform their public duties towards the state and society, and engage them in the nation's development.

The law shall regulate their participation in elections and referendums in a way consistent with their particular circumstances, without being restricted by the provisions on voting, counting of ballots and announcing of results set forth in this Constitution. This shall be done with the granting of guarantees that ensure the fairness and neutrality of the election and referendum process.

Article 89 Slavery, oppression, trafficking

Slavery and all forms of oppression and forced exploitation against humans are forbidden, as is sex trafficking and other forms of human trafficking, all of which are punishable by law.

Article 90 Charitable Endowment

The state shall encourage the charitable endowment system to establish and sponsor scientific, cultural, health, and social institutions and others and to ensure their independence. Its affairs shall be managed in accordance with the conditions set by the person who created the endowment. This will be regulated by law.

Article 91 Asylum

The state shall grant political asylum to any foreigner who has been persecuted for defending the interests of peoples, human rights, peace or justice.

Extradition of political refugees is forbidden. All of the above is according to the law.

Article 92 Limitations clause

Rights and freedoms of individual citizens may not be suspended or reduced.

No law that regulates the exercise of rights and freedoms may restrict them in such a way as infringes upon their essence and foundation.

Article 93 International agreements and conventions

The state is committed to the agreements, covenants, and international conventions of human rights that were ratified by Egypt. They have the force of law after publication in accordance with the specified circumstances. 

Read full constitution

* Titles for each article have been included by International IDEA in this translation solely for ease of reference. The article titles are not to be attributed to the drafters and should not be used to inform interpretation. Chapter and section titles were translated from the original text.

* Draft dated 2 December 2013 of the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Prepared pursuant to Article 29 of the Constitutional Declaration dated 8 July 2013. Unofficial translation prepared by International IDEA (www.idea.int).

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