Egypt under Emergency Law … Where to ?

June 30th, 2008 by Editor

 

At a workshop entitled “Egypt under Emergency Law …where to ?”

Which was  held by the Egyptian Organization For Human Rights (EOHR )supported by European Union on Monday 30/6/2008 , participants warned from the consequence of enacting a new law for terrorism as it will violate the rights and main freedoms which were guaranteed by the international covenants concerned with human rights .Participants called for the necessary of releasing a social dialogue concerning this law which shouldn’t  be confined to a particular party or a certain body and to be declared to the public opinion .

 

Participants of law professors and members of People’s Assembly  and representatives of political parties and human rights activists confirmed that Egypt had exceeded the state of emergency and there is  no longer need for it .

 

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada , secretary general of EOHR ,clarified that the state of emergency which has been imposed on Egypt since 1981 until now has a bad effects on the rights and public freedoms in Egypt . He pointed out that EOHR through the monitoring of judicial decisions and some cases of torture and death  had noted A closed relationship between the declaration of a state of emergency and the rise of fixed pattern of torture ,the government took advantage of the existence of some terrorist acts and the spread of violence from armed Islamic groups to release the hand of the executive authority to confront this phenomena under the banner of protecting the public security the matter which led to the use of widespread torture method while dealing with citizens.     

 

  Abu Seada added that one of the dangerous measures taken by the president of the republic is decision No. 4 1982 which delegated the Minister of Interior to adopt measures stipulated in Article 3 of Law No . 162 /1958 concerning Emergency Law .These measures are related to the restrictions imposed on the right to personal safety and sacred private life . The Minister of Interior has the right to arrest individuals and searched their homes and detain them regardless of  guarantees stipulated in Criminal Procedures law just for suspicion.

 

Abu Seada warned that Anti- Terrorism Law becomes just a stereotyped from Emergency law and impose more restrictions on the freedom of opinion and expression

He called for modifying Article 179 of the Constitution because it contradicts other constitutional articles such as articles 41-42-43 which guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens and are considered articles over the constitution, he confirmed that Egypt needs a mechanism to ensure the arrest of the real terrorist not legal  articles that lead to accuse citizens illegally .

 

Mr. Ahmed Seif Al Islam , director of Hisham Mubarak Center for legal profession ,agreed with Abu Seada and said that Article 179 of the Constitution which deals with combating terrorism suffers from unconstitutionality because it hampers other articles that guarantee rights and freedoms of citizens . He added that the proliferation of torture was the most important outcomes of the Emergency Law as any forensic doctor found it difficult to determine if there is a torture committed against citizen or not because he is detained 15 days , thus there must be a law guaranteeing the accused not to be detained for more than fifteen days so as the features of Torture And their effects are still clear .He clarified that the continued presence of emergency restricts the existence of a fair trial as the public prosecution plays a three contradictory roles , “ a lawyer for the police “ in the same time of  the formal investigation of  citizen and submit the case to the court ,also it has a right to detain pending investigation .He called security bodies to search for the real culprit instead of arrest people illegally .He indicated that all the detention of Taba don’t prevent such explosions occurred in Nuweiba and Dahab, pointing out that one of the Sinai detainees did not exceed twenty-year-old admitted during the investigation that he participated in the assassination of President Sadat and investigators asked to investigate this recognition without paying attention to his young age !!.

Mr. Hussein Abdul Razik ,former secretary general of Al Tagamou party ,confirmed that Egypt has lived in the state of emergency since the revolution of 1952 the matter which the state of emergency became the main state and canceling it  is considered the exception .

 

Abdul Razik rejected completely the government speech as it extended the state of emergency in so much as it  protects Egypt from the clutches of terrorism , he pointed out that the government is not sincere in what it said as Egypt has witnessed about 36 civilian cases discussed  before the military courts from  1992 to 2002 . These cases included 1117 defendants ,85 were sentenced to death by the military courts .Also Emergency Law was used against parties and opposition candidates .In November 1995 ,1000 citizens were arrested in People’s Assembly elections the matter which confuted the government claims concerning the continued imposition of the state of emergency .

 

Abdul Razik censured Law No. 97 of 1992 which amended the Penal Code to combat terrorism . Terrorism was widely defined the matter which led the court to exploit it to  justify any political activity as a terrorist act . He confirmed that the continuity of the imposition of the state of emergency is considered a severe restriction on political ,economic and social life in Egypt. He called for amending Article 179 of the constitution and refining laws from articles that restrict rights and freedoms .

 

 

At the end of the workshop ,participants recommended a set of recommendations as follows :

 

1-Putting an end to the state of emergency which has been imposed since  1981 under law No. 162 of 1958 because of its harmful effects on the human rights system in Egypt. If the Government was sincere in its intention to institute political and constitutional reform, declaring a state of emergency should only be in the event of actual war and disasters with a limited period under the control of the legislative branch of government.

 

2- Amending the Egyptian Constitution and its integral laws related to the declaration of the state of emergency. This means linking the state of emergency with exceptional risk.  Also the emergency law can determine the degree of emergency, as it could be declared partially if the risk is partial, and it could be declared in a limited geographical scope according to the risk.

 

3- Canceling laws that restrict freedoms including Political Party Law No. 40 of 1977, NGOs  Law No. 84 of 2002, Trade Union Law No. 100 of 1993 and its amendments with Law 5 of 1995, etc. In other words, ensure the right to organize through the lifting of administrative and security restrictions imposed on the freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to establish political parties and NGOs.

 

4- Canceling all laws and special courts and providing guarantees for the independence of the judiciary and the right to a fair and just trial. Further, submitting civilians to the military courts should be prohibited.

 

5- Ensuring that law that combats terrorism is not a typecast copy from the Emergency Law, making the state of emergency an eternal special case forever.

 

6- The immediate release of all detainees under the Emergency Law and putting an end to the method of arbitrary administrative detention, which contradicts Egypt’s international obligations.

 

7- Reconsidering the articles of the Emergency Law related to court jurisdiction. Within the laws of detention, there must be a guarantee for any detainee to stand before the court after his arrest or during the first hours or days of detention.

 

 It is noteworthy that the workshop comes within the framework of the “Terrorism and human rights ” project which EOHR started its activity in February 2008 and will continue until May 2009, with the support from the European Union. This project aims at supporting democratic development in Egypt, through monitoring and controlling the impact of the inclusion of the anti –terrorism articles in the constitution  over this development on one hand, and the impact of the new Terrorism Bill on this development as well.   

 

Among other goals of the project is :

 

1-     Spreading awareness among people with all different categories concerning the concept of terrorism and the misuse of power to combat terrorism.  

2-     Supporting civil society organizations (parties ,unions and NGOs)to confront the restrictions imposed as a pretext to combat terrorism .

3-     Preventing the impact of the use of the Terrorism law to impede the political participation and democratic life .

4-     Overcoming the obstacles that confront political and partisan life in Egypt in order to ensure free and proper application of democracy .

5-     Ensuring the application of the special articles and terrorism bill on the exceptional cases only  and not to be used to hinder democratic development and freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt .

6-     Strengthen mechanisms Dialogue with government bodies and non-governmental organizations to activate the process of democratization and combating terrorism .

7-     Establishing and strengthening democratic values and principles of human rights in the Egyptian society .

8-     Releasing the public freedoms and eliminating restrictions imposed on the political and partisan work to support political participation values and public freedoms .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

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