Egypt’s proposed new criminal procedures code consolidates individual rights and freedoms

Mary Nady

A House subcommittee released a draft of the proposed new Criminal Procedure Code, adding and amending key provisions, including shortening the maximum period of pretrial detention and regulating travel bans and asset freezes.

Rep. Ehab El-Tamawy, the subcommittee chairman, said the bill will be considered during the full House session.

The proposed law consolidates the powers of the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate, initiate and initiate all criminal proceedings as the administrator and representative of society with jurisdiction over all crimes.

It strengthens the legislation’s compliance with constitutional guarantees governing individual rights and freedoms, particularly when arresting, searching persons and entering and searching homes.

It also reaffirms the rules regarding the powers of bailiffs in relation to the need to obtain reasonable court orders to carry out judicial measures.

Under the proposed law, pretrial detention for crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment would be limited to 18 months instead of two years, state news agency MENA reported this week.

The changes also reduce the maximum period of pretrial detention from six months to four months for misdemeanors and from 18 months to 12 months for felonies.

Furthermore, the draft law recommends considering pretrial detention as a preventive measure rather than a punishment and establishing other alternatives, according to the subcommittee’s statement.

At the same time, the changes also provide measures to ensure that travel bans and asset freezes do not infringe on individuals’ rights to freedom of movement, residence, or protection of private property.

The new law will guarantee the right of every defendant to an attorney and ensure that trials do not proceed without an attorney.
The defendant’s right to remain silent during interrogation is also considered a constitutional guarantee.

Furthermore, the draft abolishes imprisonment as a method of ensuring that the state collects fines from those convicted in court and replaces it with compulsory public service.
It also seeks to place correctional, rehabilitation, and detention facilities under full judicial supervision to provide appropriate health and social conditions while respecting the rights and freedoms of convicts.

The new law also enshrines the rights of individuals with disabilities and those suffering from mental or psychological illnesses throughout the legal procedures.

Additionally, it stipulates the postponement of certain penalties for pregnant women in alignment with Islamic Sharia, international conventions, and treaties.

Other provisions include reorganizing the right to challenge judgments rendered in absentia to ensure defence rights for convicts.

The draft also aims to provide effective protection for suspects and witnesses to ensure fair litigation procedures.

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