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Housing | Justice for Ramlet Boulaq: Court Rules Against State & Wins Residents Rights Back

Justice for Ramlet Boulak Residents: Administrative Courts Nullify Cairo Governor’s Temporary Seizure of their Lands

Yesterday, Wednesday, August 28th 2913, the Administrative Court announced its verdict in Case No.55874 of Judicial Year 66 filed by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and a number of lawyers, on behalf of the residents of Ramlet Boulak.

The lawsuit was filed against the Prime Minister of Egypt, the Governor of Cairo, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Slum Development Fund, to stop implementation of Cairo Governor Decision No.8993 of 2011, concerning the temporary confiscation of land occupied by the Nile Tower slums, in the Boulaq Abul-Ela neighborhood of Cairo.

The timing of the decision was considered a triumph by the residents of Ramlet Boulak and could provide a step forward in their struggle against injustice. The Penal Courts are currently charging 51 residents of the area, following what became known in the media as “the Nile Towers events.”

However, none of the police officers who attacked the neighborhood were held accountable, nor did the prosecution initiate any procedures against them. On the contrary, they were celebrated by the Interior Ministry, after they killed one person and injured three with gunshots, in addition to raiding several homes in the area.

On 19 October 2011, Cairo Governor Dr. Abdul-Qawi Khalifa announced a decision by the governorate to confiscate the land of Ramlet Boulak, published in the Egyptian Gazette on 20 June 2012. This was in preparation for a cooperation agreement between Cairo Governorate and the Slum Development Fund to develop the area, which the Fund had classified as a Second Degree Unsafe Area, meaning that it is in not fit for habitat. It also classified land ownership as “state property,” despite the fact that the land is private property, as admitted to the courts by the government’s lawyer.

It should be noted that the details the slum development project–which consists of four sectors of Boulaq Abul-Ela, including Nile Towers Ramlet Boulak–were never announced to the public, which raised several questions about the real plans for the region, especially in light of pressures exerted by several sides on people living in the area to force them to leave their homes.

The residents presented the appeal as legal recourse and to defend their legitimate right to live in the area they inhabited for decades and on which their economic and social interests depend. They are calling for its development in a manner that does not violate their rights as citizens.

The decision, whose implementation was stopped by the courts today, was issued in conjunction with a series of threats and harassment by security forces against residents of the property to sell their homes to some businessmen and several speculators. Additionally, the state administration insisted on denying the residents of most amenities needed for a dignified life. In the meantime, the people of the area lived in an atmosphere of instability and fear of losing their only shelter. The appeal focused on the decision’s violation of the concept of social justice and the protection of all forms of property guaranteed by successive constitution, including the recent Constitutional Declaration.

The appeal focused on the decision’s violation of the concept of social justice and the protection of all forms of property guaranteed by successive constitution, including the recent Constitutional Declaration. The decision rescinded today had been issued in conjunction with a series of threats and harassment by security forces against residents of the property to sell their homes to some businessmen and several speculators. Additionally, the state administration insisted on denying the residents of most amenities needed for a dignified life. In the meantime, the people of the area lived in an atmosphere of instability and fear of losing their only shelter.]

The organizations signatory to this statement welcome the court’s decision to revoke the seizure of the Ramlet Boulak lands, which conflicts with freeing the right to ownership of restrictions. It also contradicts the duties of the administration as set by the Legislature in Law No.10 of 1990 on the confiscation of property for the public good. The law regulated the expropriation, requisition, evacuation, and compensation of land, which unequivocally demonstrates the Legislature’s emphasis on not to endanger the material and moral interests of citizens or threaten their stability.

The Legislature saw land confiscation as an exception and limited executive authorities carrying out temporary confiscations with a crucial constraint. It did not permit the temporary requisition of property specified in previous articles except in the case of absolute necessity, where by provisions of the law could impede the realization of a necessary public benefit or hindering a malfeasance against the public good.

Signatories:

  • Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)
  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)