The government-run Egyptian Human Rights Council (EHRC), headed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, has called for the amendment of article 76 of the Egyptian Constitution, which lays down criteria for would-be presidential nominees. The proposed change, say council officials, would open up presidential elections -- scheduled for 2011 -- to a wider range of candidates.
At a joint conference with Spanish embassy officials on Sunday, EHRC representatives also called for judicial supervision of all stages of parliamentary elections, scheduled to be held late next year. Council representatives further called for easing legal restrictions on the construction of places of worship; allowing those who have evaded military service to run in parliamentary elections; and replacing Egypt's longstanding emergency law with an anti-terrorism law in conformity with internationally-accepted principles of human rights.
Khaled Abu Hamed, head of the EHRC's Kafr el-Sheikh branch, said that conference attendees also called for amending legal provisions that allow for the detention of suspects without charge for 15-day renewable periods "pending investigation" and for compensating detainees that have been acquitted after being held by police for unjustifiably long periods. They also called for putting the Egyptian prison system under the authority of the justice, rather than interior, ministry.
In addition, conference participants discussed the proposed abolition of capital punishment as well as calls for the amendment of the local administration law so as to bring it in line with international conventions on political rights, according to Abu Hamed.
Other topics discussed at the event were the citizen's right to wage labor strikes and the proposed nullification of all legal articles allowing for the detention of suspects in freedom-of-expression cases.