Today, Thursday August 3, the commissioners of the State Council’s first circuit will convene the first session on the petition (no. 26245/71) filed by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and 32 public figures against the continued enforcement of Law 10/1914 on assembly, known as the Assembly Law. Despite its unanimous repeal by the Egyptian Parliament on January 30th 1928, the law continues to be enforced to this day; over a century after it was originally passed by the British occupation authorities, as detailed in the CIHRS report issued earlier this year: “Toward the Emancipation of Egypt.” The commissioners are expected to request that the petition’s respondents present the rationale for their refusal to publish the law’s 1928 unanimous repeal by the Egyptian Parliament, as well as its continued enforcement despite this repeal.
Today’s hearing was the outcome of an earlier hearing on May 23rd, after which the Egyptian Administrative Court on Rights and Liberties decided to refer the petition to the commissioners for an opinion. During that earlier hearing, official copies of the 1928 Parliament’s minutes as well as a translation of the British archival material were presented by the petitioners to the court in support of their case.
The petitioners filing for the Assembly Law’s repeal include political leaders, professors, rights activists, journalists, writers, and artists. As respondents, the petition names President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Industry – all in their official capacities – as well as the Chairman of the General Authority for Royal Presses. It seeks the publication of the repeal law passed by the 1928 Egyptian Parliament annulling the Assembly Law. This will require the release of the tens of thousands wrongfully imprisoned under this law together with the reconsideration of pending cases in which defendants are charged with assembly, including those sentenced on Tuesday, August 1st, in the Cabinet Clashes case. In this case, 43 defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment and nine others were sentenced to ten years imprisonment on charges related to assembly.
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