Egypt - annual report 2016

Visit to Berlin by a high-ranking delegation on the topic of women’s rights from 4 to 9 September: Discussions with the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag, MP Renate Künast (front row centre)
Visit to Berlin by a high-ranking delegation on the topic of women’s rights from 4 to 9 September: Discussions with the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag, MP Renate Künast (front row centre)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Setbacks in the development of the rule of law in Egypt have presented the IRZ with several challenges and raised fundamental issues. This applies to the pronouncement of hundreds of death sentences and long-term prison sentences against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party in court proceedings in which application of the rule of law is doubtful, as well as to the conviction of journalists with long-term prison sentences on the basis of doubtful evidence. In addition, serious restrictions on the work of the civil society must be viewed critically. The principles of the IRZ also apply in the cooperation with Egypt in the light of this: The project and consultancy work is undertaken in an objective, politically neutral way, and there is always special focus on compliance with internationally recognised standards and principles of the rule of law and human rights.

The IRZ therefore identifies strongly with the values of the rule of law connected with its mandate, with principles of criminal procedure under the rule of law and with principles of the freedom of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of association. As a consequence, it was resolved in agreement with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the German Federal Foreign Office not to continue the cooperation in 2015 for the time being and to await further developments. In 2016, talks were resumed with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice about a continuation of the cooperation.

Overall Concep

Increased support of civil society is intended alongside the cooperation with state institutions, continuing the cooperation started in 2014, depending on the political situation and developments. The IRZ also wishes to involve state institutions such as the Parliament or the National Women’s Council. The first event with representatives of civil society, Parliament and the National Women’s Council took place in the reporting year.

Foci of Activity 2016

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Delegation trip to Germany on the topic of “Women’s rights”

Outlook

The IRZ plans to extend cooperation with civil society to issues related to fundamental rights and human rights. In addition, mediator training will be continued in cooperation with the judiciary on a broader basis. Over-all, continued cooperation will depend on whether and to what extent support of the development of the rule of law will be possible. The IRZ will therefore continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and coordinate future measures accordingly with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the German Federal Foreign Office.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.

Egypt - annual report 2013

Länderbericht Ägypten 2013

Working party of Egyptian judges discussing questions of social law

General – Conceptual orientation

Legal policy starting point

The renewed and in some cases dramatic upheavals in Egypt confronted international cooperation with questions relating both to principles and to practicalities, and not only for the IRZ. Because of the mass demonstrations which took place in Cairo in the second half of the year, in which there were large numbers of casualties and injuries, the venue was moved from the centre of Cairo to the outskirts. In close coordination with the Federal Foreign Ofἀce and the Federal Ministry of Justice, the IRZ opted as a matter of principle to continue cooperation at expert level after the events which took place in July 2013. The reform process therefore continued to be supported with the aid of German expertise in terms of content, albeit without protocol requiring high-ranking political representatives to attend. It is important to underline in this context that the rule-of-law cooperation provided by the IRZ is carried out in a po-litically objective, but certainly not neutral manner. This means that the dialogue is not regarded as being a value-neutral exchange, but always insists on adherence to internationally-recognised standards.

Cooperation to date

The events that were held on the topic of transitional justice were an important occasion in this context. The IRZ's representatives have consistently underlined the principle that, according to the rules of the United Nations, each country must develop its own concept of transitional justice, taking the respective particularities into account, but that it is simultaneously indispensable for all convict parties to be involved in this process.

Moreover, training courses were held in rhetoric and teaching method-ology for judges working in training and events on international law concerning parent and child matters in cooperation with the interna-tional social service (ISD). Furthermore, an Egyptian delegation took part in an event organised by the IRZ on international civil law cooperation which took place in Tunis in cooperation with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference. Equal importance also attached to an event on the subject of recovering stolen and otherwise misappropriated assets in Cairo with forty senior participants from the judiciary and the Ministries of Egypt and Tunisia. At this event, two speakers from the Federal Minis-try of Justice as well as from the Federal Ofἀce of Justice explained the requirements of bilateral and international mutual assistance requests using typical practical examples.

The regional concept was also stressed by a German-Arab judicial fo-rum that was organised in Magdeburg and Berlin. Judges and senior ministerial oficials from Tunisia and from Egypt debated together with their German colleagues on requirements and strategies of sustainable change towards an improvement in the respective rule-of-law standards. Even if the Eastern German experience in this context cannot necessarily be transferred to the situation in Egypt and in Tunisia, in particular visits to a local judicial centre and a prison nonetheless provided valuable ins-piration for approaches in the Arab partner states. The modernisation of the judicial administration provided a further topic. There was particular interest in the digitalisation of legal transactions. Even if the infrastructure in Egypt still needs to be developed in this regard, preparing for this in good time and access to information on coming technological trends and needs are a major concern on the Egyptian side.

Major partners

  • Egyptian Ministry of Justice
  • National Centre for Judicial Studies (Judicial Academy)
  • Vice-President of the Egyptian Court of Cassation
  • Egyptian Association of Judges

Foci of activity in 2013

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • events on the topic of transitional justice

Civil and commercial law

  • events on international law concerning parent and child matters in cooperation with the international social service (ISD)
  • event on international civil law cooperation, organised together with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference in Tunis
  • German-Arab judicial forum in Magdeburg and Berlin

Criminal law and the law on the prison system

  • event on the topic of recovering assets that were stolen or otherwise misappropriated, in Cairo

Basic and further training

  • Rhetoric and teaching methodology training courses for judges

Outlook

The IRZ also continues to pursue its existing strategy by constantly involing the Egyptian partners in designing the programme, treating them as equals and working together with them on an equal footing. Civil society, and in particular the non-governmental organisations in the ἀeld of women's rights, are to be more closely involved in future activities.

Egypt - annual report 2014

Jahresbericht Ägypten 2014

Judges from the basic training course in mediation in Egypt with representatives of the CSSP

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

The setbacks which took place in the development of the rule of law in Egypt in 2014 have posed several challenges to the IRZ and given rise to fundamental questions. This applies to the imposition of hundreds of death penalties and long prison sentences on members of the Muslim Brotherhood and of the Freedom and Justice Party in trials which were questionable in terms of the rule of law, as well as the sentencing of journalists to long prison sentences. Moreover, the interference with the work of civil society organisations deserves criticism. The principles of the IRZ also apply to cooperation with Egypt against this background: The project work and consultation services are carried out in a politically objective, but not neutral manner when it comes to the maintenance of internationally-recognised rule-of-law and human rights standards and principles.

The IRZ takes a clear stance on the values associated with the rule of law, on the principles of criminal proceedings based on the rule of law, as well as on the principles of freedom of the press, opinion and assembly linked to its mandate. Consequently, in agreement with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, it was decided that the democratic process in Egypt should be supported by paying increased attention to civil society organisations. The IRZ therefore also implemented several events for representatives of civil society organisations in 2014. This cooperation is to be continued and stepped up in the coming years, always depending on the political situation and development.

Overall concept

The IRZ continued its existing cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Justice in 2014. Judicial mediation was a new, future-orientated pillar of the programme here, since a draft Bill to Introduce Mediation by Judges in Civil Law is to be adopted in 2015. The Act is to relieve the burden on the Egyptian judiciary and to structure it in a more modern, effective manner. Fifteen Egyptian judges received basic training in court mediation in a pilot project.

The IRZ also gave advice in 2014 on the fight against organised crime, consideration being given to human rights aspects, continued the training courses in teaching methodology and rhetoric for judges, which had been begun in 2013, and turned to questions related to commercial law. Together with Tunisian colleagues, Egyptian judges took part in an internship in German courts. Initial events in the field of women’s rights with representatives from civil society organisations have proven to be particularly successful. Two seminars were held in Cairo in cooperation with the German Bar Association and the German Women Lawyers Association, as was a study visit to Berlin, where the Egyptian participants met with Members of the German Bundestag, amongst others, and visited various women’s projects in Berlin.

Foci of activity in 2014

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • Conferences in Cairo on the topic of women’s rights: family law, the fight against domestic violence, constitutional law and others
  • Study visit by 20 representatives of civil society organisations on the topic of women’s rights
  • Attendance by a delegation of Egyptian women at the conference in Berlin entitled “Women leaders today and tomorrow”, in cooperation with the German Bar Association Civil and commercial law
  • Basic training in judicial mediation
  • Seminar on the digitisation of legal transactions Criminal and criminal procedure law
  • Fight against organised crime, giving consideration to human rights principles Basic and further training
  • Training in rhetoric for judges and teaching methodology