Court upholds ruling striking down ban on lawyers entering State Security Prosecution offices

A 2016 judicial ruling striking down a decision that barred lawyers from entering the State Security Prosecution’s Cairo offices was upheld on Saturday by Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court (SAC).

The initial ruling was issued by the State Council’s Court of Administrative Justice in June 2016 against the State Security Prosecution’s decision to prevent lawyers from entering the prosecution’s premises in the district of New Cairo where interrogations into a range of crimes related to the state’s internal and external security are conducted.

A number of state bodies were party to the lawsuit advanced by the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority and contesting the CAJ ruling that the SAJ ruled against on Saturday, including the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, the general prosecutor, the State Security Prosecution’s attorney general, the interior and justice ministers.

Sameh Samir, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit at the CAJ against the State Security Prosecution decision and various state bodies enforcing it, told Mada Masr that the Interior Ministry has not abided by the administratively binding 2016 ruling since it was issued last year.

According to Samir, a notice will now be delivered to the Interior Ministry informing the state body of the administrative court’s ruling. If police officers do not adhere to the terms of the court ruling, Samir added, the ministry could face litigation on the grounds that the officers are public employees that have refused to comply with a judicial order. The penalty for such an infraction would be determined by the court hearing the lawsuit, but Samir says it could extend to imprisonment or termination of employment.

In a statement issued following Saturday’s ruling, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights asserted that the Supreme State Security Prosecution’s headquarters effectively remains closed off to lawyers, who are allowed entry only after adhering to extremely strict procedures that include forfeiting their mobile phones and being frisked.

“[The ruling is a] judicial victory for the independence of the legal profession,” the center’s statement read, adding that it gives “lawyers real guarantees against abuses against them or the dignity of their profession while they are practicing it.”

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