The principle of public hearings is one of the well-established principles of the Egyptian legal system stipulated in the Criminal Procedural law, in which the courtroom is open to whomever wants to attend the trial proceedings, investigations, pleadings, and judgments, from the general public.
However, the court may order that all or part of the proceedings be heard in a private hearing, or prevent certain categories from attending to preserve public order or morality. Such private hearings can only be held upon the issuance of a judgement from a public hearing. Therefore meaning that a judge's decision alone is insufficient, and would invalidate the proceedings.
Although public hearings allow the general public's opinion to be aware of the trial proceedings, and increases confidence in the judiciary system, it cannot by any means be misused in the pursuit of fame in a way that violates the principle of equality, or brings judges to the attention of the media, which can sometimes cause confusion among the public or violate the accused's right to a fair trial without defamation.
In light of the legislator's policy of amending legislation to support new developments, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued Law No. 71 of 2021, which imposes a financial penalty of no less than EGP 100,000, and no more than EGP 300,000, for whoever photographs, records, broadcasts, publishes or presents, in any public manner, the trial proceedings of a criminal prosecution hearing without the permission of the head of the competent court , and after consulting the Public Prosecutor's Office
Devices that are found to be used not in accordance with the above, will be confiscated, erased or destroyed, according to the circumstances, and the penalty shall be doubled in case of recidivism.
This amendment conforms to the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution, in particular, article (96/ 1st paragraph), which concludes that the accused is innocent until proved guilty in a fair trial, as well as article (187) of the Constitution, which provides that court hearings are public unless the court decides to keep them private to observe public order or morality. In all cases, the judgment shall be announced in a public hearing.
Finally, this exemplifies an unprecedented legislative shift, since it highlights the belief that every person is considered innocent until proven guilty, whilst also protecting an individuals' right not to be photographed in a situation which makes them an object of contempt or suspicion among others.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.