By Omneya Makhlouf
Under Articles 208-211, freedom of the press is guaranteed, and censorship is forbidden along with the threatening, suppressing, and administrative foreclosing of newspapers, in accordance with the law regulated by the Supreme Council of the Press.
Freedom of thought and expression is addressed in Article 47, giving individuals the rights to express opinion and self-criticism.
Freedom of Assembly is guaranteed under Article 54 within the constraints of the law, and peaceful and unarmed private assemblies may gather without prior notice to the government. Under Article 55, citizens have the right to association but may not establish societies that may be hostile to the social system or be military in character.
Conditions under which the establishment of syndicates and labor unions may occur on a democratic basis are discussed, as is the formation of political parties (Article 5).
Freedom of the press is extended to print and mass media in Articles 48 and 49, and limitations on media with regards to national security are imposed. Court orders are the only source of power over media prohibition, and censorship can only be exercised in times of war or public mobilization. Article 215 designates the National Media Council (NMC) to uphold these freedoms and gives details of its jurisdiction. In Article 216, the National Press and Media Association (NPMA) is to manage state-owned institutions.
When it comes to articles dealing with freedom of expression, the term “self-criticism” was removed and replaced with Article 31 ensuring the dignity of every human being and prohibiting insult toward other human beings. Article 44 prohibited the insult of all religious messengers or prophets.
Article 51 adds to 1971’s Article 55 with a clause barring authorities from dismantling groups without a court order. Article 50 states that public and unarmed demonstrations must give prior notification.
Rights of individuals to form labor unions as outlined in the 1971 charter are retained, and under Article 52 authorities are restricted from dismantling these unions without a court order. Article 53 details the legal regulation and conditions for trade unions, which is not present in the 1971 constitution. Article 63 reaffirms the importance of work in Egyptian society and gives individuals the right to strike peacefully.
Article 212 retains the existence of the NPMA, tasked to manage state-owned institutions. Articles 70-72 as well as 211 and 212 ensure the same rights found in the 2012 constitution but are far more detailed. Punishment for crimes related to violence or discrimination through media are addressed, such as newspapers or TV programs inciting civilians to perform violent or discriminatory tasks. In Articles 211 and 212, the National Media Council is accountable for a significant degree of responsibilities and obligations to uphold social justice.
In terms of freedom of expression, Article 65 was inserted, removing the “dignity” and “religious” clauses of the 2012 constitution, and the self-criticism clause in the 1971 constitution. The end result is a clause very similar to that of 1971.
Article 73 states that public and unarmed demonstrations must give prior notification. Article 75 of the draft covers the right to assembly; limitations on authorities to monitor, attend, listen in on gatherings; and limitations on demonstrations.
Article 76 outlines the same regulations for the formation of labor unions as the 2012 charter but in greater detail and further prohibits the formation of syndicates in governmental bodies. Article 77 outlines the same notions as that of 2012’s Article 53 emphasizing the obligations that individuals in trade and labor unions have toward society.
Political party formation is outlined in Article 74. The rights of political parties and the conditions for their formation are increased. The 2013 draft is the only charter that bars parties from being dissolved except by a judicial ruling.