House Legislative Committee begins reviewing amendments to Criminal Procedures Act
Will Egyptians finally have the right to call their lawyers when arrested? The House of Representatives’ Legislative Committee began yesterday its review of the government’s proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act that aim to modernize Egypt’s legal proceedings framework, according to AMAY. The amendments would prevent security forces from investigating individuals or making arrests without a court order backed by probable cause. It would also safeguard suspects’ rights to a phone call, a lawyer, and fair treatment at the hands of investigators. The amendments would also allow the state to seek non-judicial settlement with individuals charged with misdemeanors that carry prison terms of less than one year. Also proposed: a witness protection program and clauses on the treatment of witnesses. After attacks that targeted Coptic Christians in Cairo last Spring, MPs had been pushing to pass amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act that would expedite court proceedings in terrorism cases. Their demands raised questions about the protection of due process that make the Ismail government’s proposals particularly interesting.