New court sentence: Civil society organizations monitoring the elections is a right and not a grant and is one of the guarantees of a democratic electoral process
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New court sentence: Civil society organizations monitoring the elections is a right and not a grant and is one of the guarantees of a democratic electoral process

Lawyers of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights succeeded to win a sentence from the Administrative Court early this morning confirming that civil society organizations monitoring elections is a right and not a grant from the High Elections Commission (HEC).

The court ruled that the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE) has the right to monitor and observe the 2010 Parliamentary elections. The court ruled that the sentence is to be implemented without having to notify the authorities.

In the court ruling:

“General elections are the most important form of democratic practice. With it, the people express their will and practice their sovereignty. It is a must that elections are run within the framework of constitutional rulings and the law and in a manner that guarantees the right of candidates and voters without intervention from the administrative authority for the interest of a specific political party or political trend despite the will of the people or to restrict any of the parties or candidates. Elections must be run in a manner that achieves equality and equal opportunities between all candidates. For this, the constitution and the law put elections under forms of monitoring, including under the chairmanship of the HEC, which is an administrative commission enjoying independence and neutrality. Elections are also monitored by Egyptian civil society organizations in the form of human rights associations. It is not permissible to deny these organizations their right to follow the voting and counting process – as one of the forms of popular monitoring of elections – if it has applied to the HEC within the time period set.”

EACPE had applied to the HEC for monitoring permits within the time period set by the HEC so that it can observe the elections as part of the Independent Coalition for Elections Observation, which also includes the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and Nazra Association for Feminist Studies. Since EACPE applied on 1 November 2010, the HEC has refrained from providing permits. Three days before the election day, a representative of the Independent Coalition went to the HEC to inquire about the permits and was verbally told that their request has been denied for security reasons. When the representative asked for a written rejection, the HEC refrained from doing so and force was used to remove him from the HEC headquarters.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights welcomes this important court sentence and considers it to be a new victory for civil society organizations, confirming their right to implement their activities and consolidate their role to monitor as to what extent the election has been fair and democratic, as this is a national act embodying a form of popular monitoring.

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