The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) has expressed concern over the violence outside the Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
EMHRN’s Thursday statement also condemned the security forces’ reluctance to stop the violence between rival demonstrators, which left at least five dead and nearly 700 injured.
The violence was set against the background of a constitutional declaration announced by President Mohamed Morsy on 22 November, granting him sweeping new powers. It states that Morsy’s decisions are final and not subject to appeal.
The decree called for the re-trial of those implicated in the deaths of protesters under the former regime and protected the Constituent Assembly and the Shura Council from being dissolved by a judicial authority. EMHRN described the declaration as a “clear infringement on the judicial power’s prerogative” and that calling for retrials is a violation of the independence of the judiciary.
Opposition groups demand that Morsy repeal the declaration and have protested against it on the streets of cities throughout the country. Supporters describe the declaration as a necessary move to protect the nation.
Last Saturday, Morsy announced that a referendum on the final draft of the constitution would be held on 15 December. If the constitution is passed, the declaration expires. The proposed constitution has had its share of harsh criticism and opposition groups do not want to be forced to choose between the declaration and the draft.
Michel Tubiana, EMHRN president, said in a statement, “Morsi’s constitutional declaration, and the decision to hurry through a referendum on the constitutional draft, alienates him from the democratic path and risk to demolish state institutions.”
The human rights group called on Egyptian authorities to cancel the 15 December referendum and to hold dialogue on the constitution. The group also called for taking measures to ensure that all Egyptians can exercise human rights.
EMHRN highlighted several issues around the draft constitution beginning with the drafting process, which they described as lacking, “plurality and transparency.” The group added that the draft does not protect women from discrimination and that it contains articles that do not comply with Egypt’s international human rights commitments.
Moreover, the group said that ill treatment and torture are still being carried out by the security apparatus on a wide scale and that no security reform has occurred.
EMHRN sent a delegation to Cairo last month and met with political parties and human rights representatives, as well as government authorities and European embassies. It described the human rights and political situation in Egypt as “worrying.”