Egypt: 2011-2012 Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections (SJCE)

Updated January 2012

The Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections (SJCE) The post-Hosni Mubarak People's Assembly and Shura Council elections were organised by a Higher Election Commission (HEC) controlled by the judiciary (the Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections) rather than by the Ministry of Interior, as had mostly been the case in Egypt. This was an important victory for the protesters who brought down Mubarak regime and included judicial supervision of elections among their demands.

Article 39 of the interim constitution promulgated by the SCAF on 30 March 2011 specifies that the HEC will be chaired by the head of the Cairo Court of Appeal and composed entirely of judges. Although HEC is not under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior, it could request the assistance of any state agency in carrying out its tasks. Restoration of full judicial supervision of the electoral process was an important demand of the demonstrators during the 2011 uprisings, because Egyptians seemed to associate credible elections with judicial supervision, and the creation of a commission staffed entirely by judges was seen as an important victory.

Details of the formation and membership of the commission are outlined in the amended Article 3 of the Law 73 of 1956 as follows:

  • President of the Cairo Court of Appeal, Abdel-Moez Ibrahim, as chair;
  • The two highest-ranking deputies of the president of the Court of Cassation;
  • The two highest-ranking deputies of the president of the State Council; and
  • The two highest-ranking members of the Cairo Court of Appeals in line after the president of that court

The terms of reference of the Supreme Judicial Commission for Elections are stated in Article 3 of the law on Exercise of Political Right:

  • Composing the general election, polling and counting committees stipulated therein and appointing the secretary of each committee;
  • Supervising the preparation, content, method of review, editing and updating, registration and correction of voter lists based on the national ID data;
  • Developing and applying an electoral symbol system for political party and independent candidates;
  • Receiving reports and grievances in connection with the electoral process and verifying the validity and eliminating the causes thereof;
  • Developing rules regulating the participation of Egyptian and international civil society organisations in observing all the electoral processes;
  • Developing rules regulating electoral campaigning;
  • Developing rules for allocating time slots, especially during prime time of TV and radio broadcasting, for electoral campaigning in formal and private media outlets on a full equality basis;
  • Declaring the general results of elections and referenda;
  • Determining run-off election times;
  • Forming opinion on election-related draft laws.

The HEC-selected individuals served on polling and counting committees,manage voter lists and the national ID database, and establish election guidelines for domestic and international civil society organisations. The HEC is also tasked with issuing regulations concerning elections and referenda, and is the body responsible for responding to complaints related to the electoral process.