HJEC Announces Rules Governing Civil Society
Egypt’s High Judicial Elections Commission (HJEC), headed by Justice Ibrahim Abdel Mo, Chairman of the Committee and the President of Cairo Court of Appeal, announced regulations governing the civil society organizations activities in "following and observing" parliamentary elections for the new People’s Assembly and Shura Council.
The rules requires that Egyptian civil society organizations established and declared in Egypt in accordance with regulations prescribed by Egyptian law, or international civil society organizations accredited by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry – to obtain the relevant permits necessary for that purpose from the HJEC according to the rules and procedures for issuing permits required to follow the election process. The rules also stipulate that among the declared activities of these civic organizations, there must be one of the following: political development activities or support for democracy or human rights.
The HJEC stated that ‘monitoring electoral processes means tracking and observation of the various stages of the electoral process without interfering with its progress, or attempting to influence the voters or promote propaganda for or against candidates or political parties. The HJEC rules defined the "electoral process" as all procedures of nomination, advertising, polling, counting and announcement of the result.
The HJEC confirmed the eligibility of such observers to issue reports and comments on electoral processes and to provide the HJEC or other relevant state department with their comments and observations regarding the same, so they may take the necessary action. Requests for permission to monitor the election should be made on official HJEC forms prepared specifically for this purpose. That application form must include the name of the organization and its registration number as well as evidence of its activities and the names of its observers and their details including national ID numbers, a recent photo of each observer, geographic scope of work covered by each and professional qualifications.
The HJEC also stated that all applications by non-Egyptian civil organizations must include the name of the organization, names of observers, their nationalities and copies of their passports as well as a recent personal photograph, and a permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authorizing the organization to practice this activity in Egypt. Applications must be submitted by hand to the National Council for Human Rights at least two weeks before beginning of the election. The Council shall record, examine and present the applications to the HJEC within 24 hours from the date of receipt. Then, the HJEC will issue observers who meet the legal and procedural requirements observation or monitoring permits which will set out the scope, terms and conditions of the supervisor’s work.
Furthermore, the HJEC stated that authorized civic organizations must comply with laws, rules and resolutions governing the electoral process, and must practise observation activities in accordance with the principles and regulations established by the HJEC, and indicate commitment to accuracy, impartiality and the preparation of accurate data based on objective facts that can be established and not draw conclusions prematurely, and commitment to disclose the methods of collection of information and to declare all the information that was obtained, according to the dictates of relevant laws, regulations and resolutions in force and the HJEC’s rules and instructions that guide and control the work of observers, as well as the guidelines on the behaviour and scope of elections observation issued by the National Council for Human Rights.
The HJEC bans authorized observers from attempting in any way to interfere with or influence the voting processes and procedures, or interfere in any phase of the electoral process, or seek to direct the electoral process or canvass the views of voters on voting trends, or make personal or political comments or conclusions to the media or individuals or in reports or statements about the electoral process during the process itself. Any violation of those terms and conditions means that the permit or license may be withdrawn from the organization such observers are working for or affiliated with.
The HJEC also states that any observers found guilty of obstruction of or interference with the electoral process will be subject to penalties to Part IV of the Political Rights Law No. 73 of 1956, as amended.