2015 was a tough year for Egyptian civil, political, socio economic rights activists. Five years have passed since the January Revolution that toppled the Mubarak regime, and human rights and labour rights activists have been repeatedly cracked down by the different transition governments ever since. While social movements were the spinning force for social change that triggered the revolution, counter-revolutionary practices succeeded in reproducing Mubarak’s policies and preserving the institutions of the old regime.
In the absence of a parliamentary body, Egypt’s constitution grants the president temporary legislative authority alongside his existing executive powers. In this context, President Al-Sisi’s has ratified over 175 extra parliamentary laws and decrees in 2015. In this regard, SOLIDAR calls the new parliament to respect the rule of law and enact the constitution by reviewing also all the laws by extra parliamentary decree, and by enforcing economic and social rights enshrined in the constitution.
Crack down on labour rights
The Center for Trade Unions and Wokers Services (CTUWS) has recently issued a report denouncing the violations against labour freedoms in Egypt in 2015 under the regime of Al-Sisi. As a matter of fact, although the 2014 constitution asserted in its 76th article on the workers’ right to establish their unions freely and guarantee their independence, the practices of the regime during 2015 were in the opposite direction: the state worked on preserving the official General Union and worked on using it as a threat against the independent labour and social movements. Despite this, independent trade unions continued to play a key role in mobilising at the national level for defending workers’ rights. The most prominent of these battles was the battle against “The Civil Service Law” number 18 for the year 2015 which was issued without any social dialogue even though it organises the working relationship of more than 6 million employees working with the state. Also, social movements in alliance with civil society succeeded in launching a campaign “Towards a Fair Labour Law” that resulted in a draft law presented to the government.
You can read more about SOLIDAR partners in Egypt work on Labour Rights here.
A new Egyptian Parliament
After more than two years, the Egyptian parliament is finally preparing to exercise its legislative and oversight authority amid numerous complex political and economic challenges. In Particular, this parliament was elected in the midst of unprecedented political shifts, most importantly a rising wave of terrorism and political violence, an obvious deterioration in the human rights record, a great number of extra parliamentary decrees that violates citizens’ fundamental rights. In this regard, several NGOs including SOLIDAR partners, The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESRs), issued a statement calling for the new Parliament to prioritise the restoration of and support for the foundations of the rule of law and abide by constitutional provisions, to ensure these challenges can be effectively confronted.