UPDATE: Egypt: Constitutional Court Supports Female Judges

The New York Times & ECWR

Egypt’s Constitutional Court backed the right of women to sit on the bench in the state’s administrative courts, despite conservatives’ opposition, state media reported Monday. The ruling follows a dispute in the State Council, the top administrative court, over whether women should be appointed to the courts. The Constitutional Court’s ruling, issued Sunday, said that all citizens were equal before the law. Update on Egypt: Open All Judicial Positions to Women


Published: March 15, 2010

The Right of Women to be Appointed as Judges

The Supreme Constitutional Court Refuses to Answer the Question of Common Knowledge

ECWR was pleased by the Supreme Constitutional Court interpretation and ruling that approved the right of women to be appointed as judges in the State Council. This decision was rooted in the principles of justice and law to achieve the equality of Egyptian women by not neglecting her right.

The Supreme Constitutional Court resolved the issue of women's appointment to the judiciary of the State Council at the request of the Prime Minister, who asked the Minister of Justice for the Supreme Constitutional Court's interpretation of two articles because of conflicts between the Special Council and General Assembly's use of this law within the State Council. The first article is regarding item (1) of article (73) in the code of the State Council. The article states that in order to fulfill the conditions and be eligible as a member in the State Council, one has to be an 'Egyptian' who enjoys full citizenship. The Constitutional Court noted that the term 'Egyptian' used in article 73 of the State Council code has not created any conflicts in its application between the Special Council and General Assembly. There has been no dispute in its application or in the significance of its interpretation.

Therefore, Article 73 (which the Prime Minister requested for its interpretation) is not relevant as there is no dispute over its interpretation. The court confirmed that women's rights as Egyptian citizens is not a subject of debate or interpretation, but that women have full rights and should not be discriminated against.

The second article to be considered and interpreted is the third passage of article (83) that states:

"The rest of the members and the representatives are appointed according to the decision of the President after the approval of the special council for administrative affairs."

Furthermore, the Constitutional Court confirmed the importance of Article 83, regarding it as one of the texts of the State Council code, the laws of the judiciary and is considered complementary to the Constitution. Therefore, the interpretation of this text is acceptable. The conflict about this text surrounds the difference in enforcement between the special council for administrative affairs and the General Assembly. The court concluded in its final ruling that the approval to appoint judges in the State Council is based on the special council for administrative affairs, not the General Assembly.

ECWR respects the independence of the judiciary and the important role of the State Council in establishing the principles of justice and protecting rights and freedoms. ECWR is confident that the State Council will apply the procedures in the appointment of male and female graduates from the school of law, according to their qualifications and experience and in coordination to the principles of the Egyptian Constitution and international conventions. This is necessary, especially in light of the Egyptian society that has declared vividly by all peaceful means that they refuse infringement upon applying justice standards or any justification for discrimination between Egyptians based on ethnicity, color, race or gender.

ECWR, NGO partners and civil society demand:
• The opening of doors for female graduates to work in the judiciary according to equal standards with men and according to their qualifications without discrimination.
• Speedy action to create a law that prevents discrimination, in order for Egyptians to feel secure that they are being treated according to their citizenship rights and qualifications.

The Egyptian Center for Women‘s Rights
135 Misr Helwan El-Zeraay ● 2nd floor ● Hadayek El Maadi ● Cairo ● Egypt
Tel: +20 22 527-1397 / 528-2176 ● Fax: + 20 22 528-2175 ● ecwr@ecwronline.org ● www.ecwronline.org