Enhancing Access to Legal Rights in Egypt
Microjustice is proud to present the highlights of the Legal Rights Protection Barometer Report , a comprehensive analysis shedding light on significant issues related to the accessibility and protection of civil and administrative legal rights in Egypt. This report delves into three key perspectives: (I) the capacity of people to access and protect their rights, (II) State: Affordability and accessibility, and (III) affordability, accessibility, and quality of legal assistance. In a country grappling with over 50,000 laws and varying practices across institutions and courts, Microjustice actively works towards defining, mapping, and implementing sustainable solutions to help individuals overcome these challenges.
Complexities of the Egyptian Legal System
Egypt’s legal system is known for its complexity, with over 50,000 laws and different practices varying across institutions and courts throughout the country. This lack of comprehensive legal information and low legal literacy levels pose significant barriers to accessing legal rights, particularly for the lower-income groups that make up approximately 80% of the population. Furthermore, the prevalence of strong customs and social traditions, often misaligned with Egyptian law, creates additional obstacles, especially for women residing in rural areas.
Family Law and Inheritance challenges
Family law and inheritance cases encounter further complexities due to the application of different case laws across the seven appeal courts, influenced by prevailing social traditions and customs. This creates inconsistencies and disparities in the legal treatment of individuals, especially women. For instance, agricultural land in Upper Egypt is typically registered in the name of husbands, resulting in only 3% of agricultural land being owned by women, despite them constituting 49% of the agricultural workforce.
Access to legal information on family law, including marriage, divorce, custody, educational mandates, and child support, is crucial for not only for women and men but also for children. Verbal divorces (talaq) pose challenges for women, who must navigate complex procedures and provide evidence to formalize the divorce, often resulting in financial burdens for the husband. Encouraging divorce by agreement, or talaq ‘ala al-ibra, benefits both parties and promotes legal security.
Civil documentation challenges
Another significant challenge lies in correcting mistakes and inconsistencies between various official papers, particularly in civil documents. A notable issue is that women are not allowed to register their own child, placing the existence of a newborn on paper solely at the father’s discretion. This limitation hampers women’s autonomy and exacerbates legal complexities.
Property Registration and Inheritance
The property registration system in Egypt faces significant challenges, with less than 5% of real estate registered. Although the state urges property registration, the procedures involved remain dauntingly complex, despite recent amendments. Inheritance-related legal information and assistance are also crucial, considering that women, particularly in rural areas, are often overlooked or excluded from inheritance decisions.
Addressing legal insecurity in the informal Labor Sector
The substantial informal labor sector and legal insecurity regarding labor-related rights and obligations pose significant problems. With over 50% of the labor force relying on oral contracts, many workers are unaware that they enjoy the same rights in law as those with written contracts. Employers frequently disregard this legal entitlement, leading to exploitation and the violation of workers’ rights.
The impact of Microjustice’s work
The Barometer Report of Civil Justice sheds light on the pressing challenges faced by individuals in Egypt when it comes to accessing and protecting their legal rights.
Microjustice, committed to finding sustainable solutions, actively works towards defining, mapping, and addressing these challenges by developing a Digital Legal Aid Platform to enhance universal access to legal aid for all. By promoting legal literacy and providing access to quality legal assistance, Microjustice aims to empower individuals and bridge the gap between their rights and the complexities of the legal system.
Efforts are required to streamline and simplify the legal procedures using the Microjustice standardization methodology, to enhance legal information dissemination and to promote gender equality within the legal framework. Collaboration among various stakeholders, including government institutions, legal professionals, and civil society organizations, is crucial to effecting meaningful change and ensuring that legal rights are accessible and protected for all Egyptians.
In anticipation of the growing demand for affordable and high-quality legal aid, Microjustice is developing a digital Legal Aid Platform. This platform aims to serve as a valuable tool that complements existing legal aid services and promotes universal access to legal assistance. The objective of the digital Legal Aid Platform is to provide accessible, concise, and efficient information on the legal procedures and enforcement mechanisms and connect people, in need of legal assistance, to a quality and affordable lawyer.