Referendum at gunpoint
This report documents the period of the constitution draft preparation, the pre-preparation period and the two days of the referendum. The report identifies the defective articles in the constitution draft, the atmosphere in which the elections took place and human rights abuses over the two successive days of the referendum. The report also states the statutory violations in the Egyptian and international laws with regard to the elections.
The current Egyptian government has set the date for the voting process on the constitution draft to be on the 14th and 15th of January 2014 under high security conditions. The constitution draft has been written by the Committee of the fifty members who were selected and appointed without election after the military coup lead by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on his elected President Mohamed Morsi, who was abdicated and imprisoned in an undisclosed location for 5 days. The coup is considered an illegal procedure and therefore all consequent actions or elections are also illegal and void.
On the 8th of July 2014 the temporary president, Adly Mansour, introduced a constitutional declaration which had a lot of defects. Then he nominated a committee of fifty members who lack cultural and statutory experience, don’t represent the diversity of the Egyptian People democratically and lacks the presence of any constitutional expert, unlike the 2012 constitution.
It’s notable that the International Committee of Jurists yesterday asserted that the draft Constitution to be voted on in a referendum on Tuesday and Wednesday is highly flawed and should be modified if it is to serve as a suitable basis for upholding the rule of law in a democratic Egypt.
Constitution draft defects
It’s notable that the new constitution draft is not compatible with the International conventions of Human Rights, and includes articles that violate Human Rights explicitly; although an article was developed to state the commitment of the state to the rights and the freedoms stated in the International conventions of Human Rights.
One of the major defects in the constitution is the allowance of the military trials for civilians after they were put in a limited context in the 2012 constitution. Also, the people, President and Prime Minister don't have the right to choose the Minister of Defense, although this is a very critical position.
The articles of the constitution did not clearly state the method of firing the Minister of Defense, or the belonging of the authority of firing him; they also gave the Minister of Defense extra authority, such as: The President cannot dissolve the Parliament or call the people for a referendum without the approval of the Minister of Defense. The constitution draft also gave extra authorities to the whole Egyptian Military that had special benefits all over the past decades, and it stated nothing about judging the military or making it supervised by the people.
The Egyptian protest law came to put an end to the idea of freedom of protesting and expression that is preserved in all of the International conventions; whereas it gave the state the authority to ban the protests that it considers "threatening to the safety".
From the defected articles, the cancellation of the percentage of workers and peasants in the Parliamentary Houses; the constitution draft also cancelled one of the two Parliamentary Houses, so that one house will develop and approve laws, set the strategy of the state, and supervise the government performance.
The draft also did not state a specific system for the elections, and left the choice for the President. It didn't clarify which elections will take place first; this gives the space for changing the plan put by the military that stated that the Parliamentary elections must take place before the Presidential.
Article (219) was also deleted from the 2012 constitution, this article explained what exactly is meant by the "Principles of the Islamic law " ( Shariah).
State preparations for the referendum process
A - The decision of the presidential decree voters: The decision of the appointed president Adli Mansour was made on January 6, 2014, which stipulated that in cases of the current voting, it is required that those who reside in the province that isn’t one of the province’s that follows their national number to cast their vote in one of the province’s which their national number exists, or else this will be a new way of rigging their vote. This leads to individuals who can cast their vote in more than one province per day, knowing that they can vote for two consecutive days .
B - The calling of the referendum with "yes" " Yes ," was made with the advertising of ads on all the buildings and roads in Egypt, in addition to the ongoing development of the television advertising, which is illegal, and does not indicate a neutral or democratic or give individuals the right to choose at their own will.
C - The atmosphere of intimidating the voters The period leading up to the voting, there was an atmosphere of repression and intimidation by the current rise of authorities on what voters should choose. This is also evidenced by the security forces who were deployed in order to create panic in the hearts of citizens. A declaration was made for the deployment of 160 thousand soldiers and armored vehicles in a case like “The Ninja” in order to secure the electoral process.
The owner also threatened Mohammed Ibrahim, Minister of the Interior, saying that if anyone tried to disrupt the voting process or prevent voters from casting ballots will be violently dealt with. It’s worth mentioning that the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement calling on its members to distance themselves from any polling places in order to avoid violence.
The first day of the referendum: Voters on the first day of the referendum for the third time in three years. The Organization has set aside today to influence the will of the voters and using cars roaming the streets advertising Yes in all provinces to publish melsokat to vote Yes to both places and download Alaftat with the radio song "recognizes the hands" of the army in the radio and television throughout the day to vote Yes to the referendum, no to terrorism and no note posters call for referendum without was arrested tried to call a referendum without the other day. It was also a collective transfer cases to voters in a bus "because we say yes to the Constitution". And the army have been deployed in all the roads and put sand barriers either in schools with similar landscape of war. The first group also Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited places of election and saying the soldiers to "perform their work well to ensure that the conduct of the referendum in a secure environment".
Before opening the event committees in court in Imbaba district of Cairo was announced –in so far there have been no injuries. Electronic committees opened early at 9 a.m. January 14, 2014 and closed at 9 p.m. and was nearly all elected officials who had voted yes to the Constitution and celebrate. And committees of elected after 4 pm for researchers.
Preparing demonstrations against the referendum calls for the province throughout the Republic with signs describing the constitutional referendum as a "Constitution" that the bodies of more than 3000 Egyptians and those demonstrations led to clashes that ended with the deaths of 11 Egyptians by army and police forces and wounding some 40 others, according to the Ministry of health also arrested 294 of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the Interior Ministry. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on Egyptians to the expression of differences and respect for freedom of expression and a commitment to nonviolence in a press release issued yesterday.
The second day of the referendum: The second and final day of a referendum on the draft Constitution of the first day turnout significantly, most voters were in favour of the draft Constitution. Opened its doors to the polling commissions relatively late on the first day they started some commissions opened its doors from 9:15 to 10:30 a.m. under heavy security presence continued propaganda for the referendum is Yes in the collection of the State television and radio stations and mass transportation for voters to vote Yes.
During the second day said security forces in North Sinai governorate of Aswan and their finding to sarratt bomb was dealt with and defused by explosive experts and administrators is not recognized.
Demonstrators continued boycott of the Constitution throughout the Republic which led to clashes between police and army forces and protesters led to the arrest of protesters on Tahrir Square.
Regarding the violations that happened during the voting process, children were used in voting, and also judges voted including the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the temporary president, Adly Mansour, who voted for Yes and asked people to vote for yes to fight black terrorism, which is an illegal act. Also multiple votes for one person were allowed in more than one place in several governorates. In addition, a group-voting incident was monitored around the 2 days of voting, and a judge was photographed holding a gun in the voting place.
Human Rights violations
The Police and Armed Forces used excessive violence against the protesters who refused voting or those who called for boycotting the referendum and voting for No. The forces used live ammunition against the protesters and confiscated the right to demonstrate, the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and expression, in addition to the main right of a human to live.
On the first day of the referendum 11 people were killed according to the statements of the Ministry of Health, they were killed directly in head and chest, another 40 people got injured, one of them was a dentistry student in Assiut, Abdel-Rahman Ali, who was killed after he got arrested by the security forces and was beaten to death. Also a 14 years old child was killed in Sohag and another person in the second day died of his wounds of the first day. That violated the 3rd article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and also violated the 6th article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life” in addition to violating the Convention against Torture which was ratified by the Egyptian government.
The first day of referendum witnessed mass arrests all over the country and reached 294 people according to an official at the Ministry of Interior who refused to mention his name. The number included at least 7 members of Masr Al-Qaweya party when they tried to hang posters calling for boycotting the referendum. Also 3 girls in Alexandria were arrested and released at the end of the day. Arrests continued in the second day and included children, a 16 years old child was arrested in Al-Daqahleya, and a student named Mos’ab Kamal also was arrested when he passed near an electoral commission on his way home.
Other violations included assault by beating voters, who came to vote for No, by other voters who voted for Yes and the Armed Forces. Also a woman who came to vote for No was dragged on floor by other women who support the constitution in Minia. Another woman was slapped on her face by pro-constitution men in front of an electoral commission. The CNN also documented beating a man on his face twice in front of an electoral commission, dragging him on floor and strangling him by his neck then sitting on him by Armed Forces soldiers in their uniform, they accused him of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Human Rights Monitor recommends that the Egyptian government should not use violence against protesters or any person.
- It also recommends that the Egyptian authorities should abide by international treaties and conventions that were ratified by the government, regarding human rights and respect of human rights especially the right to live.
- Human rights Monitor recommends that the Egyptian authorities should commit to democracy and transparency regarding the counting of votes and announcing the results of the referendum.