The Chargé in Egypt (Winship) to the Secretary of State

No. 155

Sir: Referring further to my despatch of December 30, 1927, No. 150, I have the honor to report that after the Egyptian Government had taken over one year to discuss and arrive at the final point of presenting the reforms to the Powers, the request that the reply be given by January 31st is not taken seriously by the Legations here. In each case the Circular Note has been acknowledged, followed by a statement to the effect that a reply should not be hoped for by the date given. France, Italy, and Greece, as stated, would prefer to handle the entire matter through diplomatic channels.

I am now informed by the Legations of these countries that their recommendations in submitting the Circular Note to their respective Governments will be as follows:

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To accept point one. To accept point two in principle, but require the appointment of prosecuting attorneys from the Capitulatory Powers to handle all cases brought against foreigners, and also with the proviso that an international police be maintained in Egypt to carry out the orders of the prosecuting attorneys in cases against foreigners. If these two modifications are not accepted by the Egyptian Government it will be suggested that the present procedure in regard to foreigners be maintained, although the jurisdiction of the Mixed Courts will apply in the trial of cases. A clause providing for the appeal of criminal cases will also be annexed.

There will be no objection to point three or point four in principle, although the question of procedure and application will probably be discussed at length.

On point five the view taken is the same as that stated to be held by The Residency in my despatch No. 150, of December 30, 1927, that is, to make it possible for an Egyptian to be named president or vice-president of the Tribunal. It is believed, however, that this will only remove the objection to the wording of the present regulation that an Egyptian cannot hold these positions, and to which the Egyptian Government objects. The foreign powers here will, however, oppose a modification which will require the appointment of an Egyptian to either of these posts.

Point six will be bitterly opposed on the ground that the judges of the Mixed Courts should be denied any temptation to win political favor and that the giving of decorations might influence the Court in favor of the Government.

On page seven, of the proposed new text of Article Twelve of the Mixed Civil Code, it is suggested that the present text of Article Three be changed to read as follows: “There shall be a Court of Appeal which may be located either at Alexandria or Cairo …”, instead of the actual text which reads: “There shall be at Alexandria a Court of Appeal …”. This is regarded as an important modification by the foreign Legations and exception is taken to the fact that the Egyptian Government did not mention it in its Circular Note but gave it only in the proposed new text of the Code. The objection to the possibility of the Court of Appeals’s being moved to Cairo is made on the same ground as point six, that is, fear of political influence.

During the week I have talked with several members of the Egyptian Government on the subject, and find that they cherish no hope for the acceptance of the six points by the Capitulatory Powers by January 31st, but they hope that each will reply to their Circular Note by agreeing to send representatives to an international congress to be held in Cairo to discuss the matter in general. As stated, it is [Page 764] believed that the foreign powers represented in Cairo will ask that the Congress be not open to general discussion regarding the Capitulations but that it be limited to the discussion of the six points presented.

I am enclosing herewith an English translation of the official text of the Circular Note,14 already submitted in French, which is taken from the Egyptian Gazette of January 6, 1928.

I have [etc.]

North Winship
  1. Ante, p. 747.