- Documents on Democracy
On February 12, after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down following weeks of protests against his rule, the Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations—made up of thirteen Egyptian NGOs—issued a statement containing a "Roadmap for a Nation of Rights and the Rule of Law." Excerpts appear below:
The Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations congratulates the Egyptian people for their successful revolution and the removal of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, who denied dignity and humanity to Egyptians for three decades. . . . [I]t applauds the third communiqué issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which stated that the council "will not be an alternative to the legitimacy approved by the people." As such, the Forum calls on the Supreme Council to quickly release a timetable for the transfer of power to a civilian body to manage the transition phase to a civil, democratic state that respects human rights, in cooperation with the armed forces, and with the participation of civil society, which can monitor the implementation of the roadmap. . . .
The Forum offers the following proposals:
Dissolve the People's Assembly, the Shura Council, and local councils, which are the product of the most fraudulent elections in Egypt's history, in order to avoid any challenge to the legitimacy of legislative or constitutional amendments issued by the parliament. Moreover, all officials involved in the administration of elections to these bodies must be investigated. The Forum believes that holding parliamentary or presidential elections in the current corrupt legislative and political environment will produce results that differ little from the previous elections. Indeed, the next elections must be held after a transitional period of at least one year during which time public liberties are respected in full, particularly the right to form political [End Page 181] parties, professional and trade unions, civic associations, and all forms of media. . . .
Stop all prosecutions, arrests, and harassment of political activists, journalists and foreign correspondents, and human rights defenders; immediately end the military police's participation in civilian police affairs and their involvement in arrests and detentions; immediately investigate all human rights violations; immediately release all those detained by the military police; and, refer those suspected of violations of the general law to the civil investigating authorities. . . .
Issue an immediate declaration rescinding the exceptional state of emergency, which has led to the collapse of sovereignty of the law and the independence of the judiciary, and under which torture, abductions, and extrajudicial killings have increased, human dignity [has been] denied, and court rulings [have been] disregarded.
Adopt a comprehensive program for far-reaching constitutional and legislative reforms that will pave the way for democratization and respect for human rights, in accordance with a specific timetable. This program should include:
Constitutional reform: Draft a new constitution that will have enshrined in it the separation of powers, end the executive's absolute control over the legislative and judicial authorities, and limit the absolute authorities given to the president.
Guarantee the right of all individual citizens to run for the office of president and limit the presidency to no more than two four-year terms.
Restrict the authority of the president to declare a state of emergency, ensuring that it can only be invoked for a limited period and only in cases of war, armed internal unrest, or natural catastrophes. In all cases, it should be limited to the affected areas of the country.
Establish the civil nature of the state as a state for all its citizens based on the principles of equality and impartiality toward all citizens regardless of religion, belief, gender, or race. Competence should be the sole standard used to determine appointment to the civil service.
Guarantee freedom of religion and belief for all citizens without discrimination and criminalize incitement to religious hatred and sectarian violence.
Guarantee the independence of state-owned media from the executive so that it can accurately reflect the intellectual, political, cultural, religious, ideological, racial, and social diversity of Egyptians.
Enshrine the sovereignty of constitutional guarantees for rights and public freedoms above all other supplementary legislation.
Enshrine the hierarchy of international human rights agreements above Egyptian legislation, making them invulnerable to abrogation, amendment, or suspension by...