Hidden Emergency Law

September 18th, 2012 by Editor

Draft bill being debated by the Egyptian cabinet is reminiscent of old Mubarak-era emergency law

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) reject the controversial draft bill, named the ‘protecting society from dangerous people’ bill, replicates the worst features of the widely-misused and now defunct emergency law. The bill, which was prepared by the interior and justice ministries and introduced by the incumbent cabinet led by Premier Hisham Qandil, is yet to be approved by President Mohamed Morsi. Like the old emergency law, which gave the police the right to arrest civilians without evidence and without charges, the ‘protecting society from dangerous people’ bill would give the interior ministry the right to put suspects under house arrest for up to 30 days. It would also enable the ministry to put suspects under surveillance or to order them to carry out community service, for an indefinite period of time. Apart from acts of thuggery and terrorism, the law also includes many other crimes such as bribery, weapon trading, drug dealing, money laundry, currency forfeiting and prostitution. It violates the rights and freedoms that are the basis of the January 25 Revolution, thanks to the powerful authorities granted to police personnel.

One of the factors that lead to the 2011 uprising which toppled former president Hosni Mubarak was public anger towards police brutality. Recurrent malpractices were carried out at police stations and by now-dismantled sections of the state security apparatus, who invoked the emergency law to arrest civilians, particularly opposition figure and political activists.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR stated that the new bill does not specify the basis on which the police may invoke the law, giving them similar powers to those they held under Mubarak.

The law could also prevent forms of protesting and striking, even the peaceful ones, because the law, Seda says, does not provide an explicit description of a crime. “There is absolutely no justification for passing such a draft law, the Egyptian penal code covers all these crimes included in the new draft law. Article no. 25 can be used instead of the newly drafted law” he commented. 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 at 3:04 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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