Egypt/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.1 Constitution

Prior to 1956, the concept of economic, social and cultural rights did not exist in Egyptian legal documents, with the exception of articles (19) and (21) of the 1932 constitution, which stipulate the compulsoriness of primary education and the right of Egyptians to form associations.

The historical paradox lies however in the fact that the commitment of the Egyptian state to provide free primary education was in force before 1943 and before the inclusion of this principle in any international document or convention[1]. Later on in 1952, and during the 2nd Wafd government, a law was issued stipulating the freeness of secondary education and this law began to be implemented nationwide after the military revolution in 1952.

From the constitutional point of view, the 1956 constitution included the economic, social and cultural rights rules even before the issuance of the International Covenant in 1966.

Thus articles 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 20, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56 included these rights, which were then included in the two constitutions adopted during Nasser era (provisional constitution of 1964 and the constitution of 1971).

The constitution of 1956 was issued before the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued in 1966 and article 15 of this covenant stipulates:

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:

  • To take part in cultural life;
  • To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
  • To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity.

4.  The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.[2]

In the midst of uprising voices demanding to participate in determining the policies of the State , and re- forming the constituent assembly of the Constitution , and after repeated presidential promises not to call for a referendum on the constitution unless consensus achieved, a new constitution was actually unanimously declared, after bloody conflicts claimed the lives of dozens of Egyptian people in the wake of the Constitutional Declaration of the Presidency on November 22, 2012 , which was followed by a state of popular rejection and rebellion against the so-called " monopoly power " , a constitution draft came to light, which the president called to referendum upon receipt of this draft, this Constitution gained the approval of 63.8 % of the participants in the process, which was only 32.9 % participation in the  referendum.

 

The 2012 Egyptian Constitution confirms the following:

Article 12

The state shall guarantee cultural, social and lingual characteristics and shall particularly work on providing Education, Science and Education books in Arabic.

Article 45

Freedom of opinion and expression shall be guaranteed and everyone shall have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, portrayal or other forms of expression within the boundaries of the law, self-criticism and constructive criticism to ensure the soundness of national construct.

Article 48

Freedom of the press, printing, publishing and other media venues shall be guaranteed. All Media shall broadcast their message freely and independently to serve the community, express the public’s opinion and contribute to its form and development inside the state and society main principals’ framework.

All Media shall preserve and respect the individual’s rights, freedom, privacy, public duties and national security.

Suspension and closure or sanctions against any Media venue shall only be executed with a court injunction otherwise it is prohibited.

As an exception, and in case of declaring state of emergency or in war time, limited cnesorship may be imposed on newspapers, prints and media in matters related to public safety or national security.

Article 49

Freedom of the press, publishing and all kinds of Media is guaranteed, for every Egyptian person or Legal Egyptian entity.

The article also regulates radio stations, television and digital media startup process.

Article 59

Freedom of scientific research is protected. Universities and Academies both for science and liberal arts as well as research centers all work independently and government shall fund it with a proper share of the GNP.

Having set on the roadmap the first steps towards forming a constitutional amendment committee in 2012, and following the June 30 Revolution and the suspension of work related to the constitution on 3 July  2013 after ending the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime -the door was open to amendments without limit or direction. Thus the Committee of 50 was formed with previous Secretary General of the League of Arab Nations Sayyid Amr Moussa as the head of the committee. For a period of 60 working days work was undertaken on all the articles in the defunct 2012 constitution, which was treated as writing a completely new constitution.

The share culture received within the new constitution was mentioned in a separate title in Part II: Basic Components of Society. This part came after the social components and economic components, and appeared in four articles from Article 47 to Article 50 as follows:

Article 47

The state shall be committed to maintaining Egyptian cultural identity and its various channels of civilization.

Article 48

Culture is a right of every citizen, guaranteed by the state that shall be committed to supporting and providing cultural material of all kinds to different groups of the people without discrimination based on financial capability or geographical location or other factors, with special attention given to remote areas and those most in need.

The State shall also support activity of translation from and to the Arabic language.

Article 49

The State is committed to the protection and preservation of antiquities as well as the tending to areas of archaeological heritage; the restoration and maintenance of antiquities, recovery of stolen artefacts and organizing and supervising excavations.

Gifting or exchanging any objects of heritage is prohibited.

Vandalism and trafficking is a crime with no statute of limitations.

Article 50

Egypt’s civilizational and cultural heritage, whether tangible or intangible, in all its diversity and major periods from ancient Egypt, to Coptic and Islamic heritage, national and human capital the State is obliged to preserve and maintain in addition to contemporary literary and artistic cultural capital in its various forms. Violating any of these is a crime penalized by law.
The State shall pay special attention to preserve the elements of cultural diversity in Egypt.


Cultural Rights

The 2012 constitution included ten articles that may be listed under the concept of cultural rights in the broad sense of the term (articles 12, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 46, 47, 48 and 49).

Society shall promote and protect morals; consolidate the genuine Egyptian traditions; observe the high level of religious education, ethical and national values, historical heritage of Egyptian people, scientific facts, socialist behavior and public manners within the law. The state shall follow and consolidate these principles.

Article 10

Family is the nuclear element of society, founded and supported by religion, morality and patriotism, the state and the society is keen to support the cohesion and stability of Egyptian family, as well as protecting and establishing moral values; so as regulated by law.

Article 12

The state protects linguistic and cultural ingredients of the community, and works to localize education, science and knowledge.

 

Article 58

Every citizen has the right to high quality education, which is free in all various stages and mandatory in elementary school, the State shall take all necessary measures to extend the mandate into the following stages of education.

The state shall encourage technical education, regulate and oversee all kinds of education.

The educational institutions shall abide by the state’s plan and goals, in order to achieve the balance between education society demands.

Article 60

Arabic Language is a mandatory subject through all various stages of education and in all institutions.

Religion and national history are mandatory subjects in all pre-university education stages, all universities are committed to teaching “values ​​& ethics” for various scientific curriculums.

Article 61

State is committed to developing a comprehensive plan to eradicate illiteracy for all ages, and genders. This plan shall be designed, executed and accomplished within 10 years.

Article 43

Freedom of belief is inviolable, and the State shall protect the freedom of religion and the citizen’s right to build their places of worship for the heavenly religions and practice their rituals freely, so as regulated by law.

Article 45

Freedom of opinion and expression shall be guaranteed and everyone shall have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, portrayal or other forms of expression within the boundaries of the law, self-criticism and constructive criticism to ensure the soundness of national construct.

Article 48

Freedom of the press, printing, publishing and other media venues shall be guaranteed. All Media shall broadcast their message freely and independently to serve the community, express the public’s opinion and contribute to its form and development inside the state and society main principals’ framework.

All Media shall preserve and respect the individual’s rights, freedom, privacy, public duties and national security.

Suspension and closure or sanctions against any Media venue shall only be executed with a court injunction otherwise it is prohibited.

As an exception, and in case of declaring state of emergency or in war time, limited censorship may be imposed on newspapers, prints and media in matters related to public safety or national security.

Article 59

Freedom of scientific research is protected. Universities and Academies both for science and liberal arts as well as research centers all work independently and government shall fund it with a proper share of the GNP.

The Egyptian constitution revised in 2014 included the following articles in relation to freedom of expression:

Article 64

Freedom of belief is an absolute right.

Rights to freedom of religious practice and the establishment of houses of worship for divine religions shall be regulated by law.

Article 65:

Freedom of thought and speech are guaranteed by the state.

Every person has the right to freedom of expression by way of speech, writing, photographing, or any other tools of publishing and expression.

Article 66

Freedom of scientific research is protected. The government shall fund researchers and inventors and shall protect their innovations and work on implementing them.


Article 67

Freedom of artistic and literary creative output is guaranteed by the state. The State shall be committed to the advancement of arts and letters, and shall sponsor creatives, protect their output, and provide the necessary means to do so.

Legal action to stop or confiscate artistic, literary and intellectual works or any suits against their authors shall not be filed nor proceeded except by way of the public prosecutor. No penalty to suppress freedom in cases of crimes committed in relation to publicly disseminated artistic, literary or intellectual work. As for penalties for crimes committed by incitement to violence or discrimination among citizens, or infringement on personal matters of individuals shall be determined by law.

In this case the court shall oblige the convicted party to pay compensation to the victim of the crime in addition to respective compensations provided for damages caused, accordingly with the law.

Article 68

Information, data, statistics and official records belong to the people, and their disclosure from various sources is a right guaranteed to every citizen. The State shall be committed to providing and making this information transparently accessible to citizens. Regulations of access and confidentiality, rules of filing and preservation and appeals to refusals of release shall be regulated by law. The law shall also determine penalties for withholding information or deliberately giving false information…

Article 69

The State shall be committed to the protection of intellectual property rights in its various forms in all fields and shall establish a board to oversee these rights and their legal protection, regulated by law.

Article 70

Freedom of the press, printing, publishing and other visual, aural and electronic media platforms is guaranteed. Egyptians, whether natural or legal persons, public or private, shall have the right of ownership and publishing of newspapers, and the right to establish audio-visual as well as digital media platforms.

Article 71

It is prohibited by any party to impose censorship on newspapers and Egyptian media outlets or to suspend or close down its sources. As an exception, and in case of declaring state of emergency or in war time, limited censorship may be imposed on newspapers.

No penalty to suppress freedom in cases of crimes committed by way of publication or  publicity. As for penalties for crimes committed by incitement to violence or discrimination among citizens, or infringement on personal matters of individuals, these shall be determined by law.

Article 72

The State shall be committed to ensuring the independence of press institutions and media owned by these institutions wherein the State shall ensure media neutrality and the expression of all political and intellectual opinions and social interests and ensure equality and equal opportunities in addressing public opinion.

Article 73

Citizens have the right to organize public meetings, processions and demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest without carrying any weapons of any kind with notification as regulated by law.
The right to holding special peaceful meetings is guaranteed with no need of prior notification and may not be attended, monitored or spied on by security forces.

Article 74

Citizens have the right to form political parties with notification as regulated by law. Any political activity may not be excercised through forming political parties based on religion, based on gender or origin discrimination, or based on sectarian or geographical grounds. Political activity may not be excercised in opposition to democratic principles, or in secret, or in military or quasi military nature. Parties may not be dissolved except through a court order.

Article 75

Citizens have the right to establish associations and civil society organizations on a democratic basis and shall have legal status by one-time notification.

Organizations shall operate freely and administrative authorities may not intervene in their affairs, nor solve them, nor dissolve their administrative or trustee boards without a court order.

Associations and civil society organizations are prohibited to operate in secret or through military or quasi military basis, and political parties may not be dissolved without a court order. All related matters shall be regulated by law.

Article 76

The law guarantees the establishment of trade unions and federations on a democratic basis, and shall have legal status, operate freely and contribute to raising the level of qualification of its members, and shall defend their rights and protect their interests.  
The State guarantees the independence of trade unions and federations and their administrative boards may not be dissolved except by court order. Trade unions and organizations may not be established by authorities or their respective bodies.

Article 77

The law regulates the establishment of trade unions and their management on a democratic basis. The law shall ensure their independence, determine their resources, members’ code of ethics, and hold them accountable for their conduct in excercising their professional activity according to the ethical and professional codes of honour.

Professions shall not establish but one respective union. Unions may not be placed under sequestration or interference by administrative authorities in their affairs, and the board of directors shall not be dissolved except by a court order and shall be consulted on related draft laws related.

Civil Associations and Institutions Law 84 of 2002 stipulates that the Ministry of Social Affairs shall be the administrative body supervising all civil associations and institutions regardless of their activity, whether a social, chartable, cultural or artistic activity.

This can be elaborated according to the following table:

 

No.

Law

Remarks

Article 11

Civil Associations and Institutions Law 84, of the year 2002

It prohibits the association from aiming to undertake an activity that threatens national unity, goes against public order or decency, or calls for discrimination between citizens on the base of gender, origin, color, language, religion or creed.

Article 13

 

The exemption from registration fees that should be paid by the association on all kind of contracts which it is party to, such as ownership, mortgage, other rights in kind, and fees for authenticating signatures.

 

 

The exemption from added tax stamps currently imposed, or to be imposed in the future on all contracts, proxies, written material, printed documents and records, and others.

 

 

The exemption from custom tax and other charges imposed on imported production instruments, machines, equipment and requirements, and all what is received as presents, donations, and aid from abroad, upon a decision by the prime minister, and a proposal by the minister of social affairs and a presentation by the minister of finance, on condition that these items be necessary for its main activity.

 

 

The exemption of all real estate owned by the association from all real estate tax.

Article 17

 

The association has the right to accept and collect donations from natural individuals and judicial persons according to the manner determined by the executive code.

 

 

No society has the right to obtain money from abroad, whether from an Egyptian or a foreign individual, or a foreign authority or its representative in Egypt, or send any to individuals or organizations abroad, except with the permission of the minister of social affairs, with the exception of books, periodicals and scientific and artistic magazines.

Article 18

 

The association, for the sake of achieving its goals and maintaining its financial resources, may organize service and productive projects, galas, charity fairs, exhibitions, and sport games.

 

None of these amendments were added to the constitution or declared a law, but it is expected to be discussed in August / September 2013 for modification.

The Egyptian Ministry of Justice had completed drafting the amended Civil Associations and Institutions Law in May 2013 that was to be presented to the Shura Council.However the project was disrupted and suspended by the June 30 revolution that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government, and subsequently the the constitution and the dissolution of the Shura Council was also suspended. The law will not be amended until a new parliament is elected.  



[1]              Violation of cultural rights, Dr. Abdel Khaleq Farouk
[2]              http://www.aihr.org.tn/arabic/convinter/Conventions/HTML/pacteconosoc.htm 


Chapter published: 01-04-2016


EN | ES