Egypt lawmakers boycott constitutional amendments debate Leslie Schulman at 2:41 PM ET
[JURIST] Over 100 members of the Egypt parliament boycotted a Sunday parliamentary session called to debate constitutional amendments [JURIST report] proposed last year by President Hosni Mubarak [official profile; JURIST news archive]. Critics say the amendments, which target 34 articles of the constitution, are designed to favor Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party [party website] and restrict powers of the Islamist and independent parties. The opposition also claims that the amendments are being pushed through parliament without proper debate. Parliament is expected to approve the amendments as early as Tuesday, with a popular referendum to follow on April 4.
In advance of Sunday's debate, Amnesty International [advocacy website] called [press release] the proposed changes the "greatest erosion of human rights" since the Egyptian government re-imposed emergency laws [JURIST news archive] in 1981 and urged parliament to reject them:
The amendments . . . would give sweeping powers of arrest to the police, grant broad authority to monitor private communications and allow the Egyptian president to bypass ordinary courts and refer people suspected of terrorism to military and special courts, in which they would be unlikely to receive fair trials.
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