CAIRO: Criminal cases now will carry six-month deadlines for judges to carry out investigations, according to a Tuesday presidential decision.
If judges fail to meet this deadline, another judge will be delegated for an additional six months to resume investigations on the case.
“This is a very positive amendment as many cases are left pending slow justice procedures that continue for long years,” said Mohamed Zarea, the head of the Arab Penal Reform Organization.
“These amendments will obviously benefit the justice system and speed up investigations,” Zarea told The Cairo Post Wednesday.
Before the amendments, investigative judges were given indefinite full mandates to conduct investigations, and many detainees complained that many detainees are kept in prolonged custody pending cases for which they are eventually acquitted.
Other political activists have accused the justice system of using remand as a punishment against them. The 26-year old journalist Mohamed Sultan was released in June after he was held for 11 months over charges that were eventually dropped later due to lack of evidence.
A 2013 amendment by then-President Adly Mansour was condemned for raising the remand duration ceiling to two years for crimes that could carry a live sentence or the death penalty.
The text of Sisi’s decision states that the new amendments apply to all crimes, however Zarea said further clarification on whether the Mansour decree applies is needed.
Former Dean of Faculty of Law in Cairo University Mahmoud Kbeish told The Cairo Post Wednesday that Mansour’s amendment is a “setback to the protection of personal freedoms, which are guaranteed in the constitution. Many pending cases, under which detainees are kept in custody, will end with no convictions.”
In the past, the prosecution was the only body authorized for delegating judges by sending a request to the Appeal Court, but after the new amendments “the defendant and the civil plaintiffs are now able to submit their requests directly to the court without a need to refer first to the prosecution,” added Kbeish.