The new law of demonstration: Regress not a progress

October 19th, 2013 by Editor

EOHR expresses its deep concern regarding the new law of demonstration that is intended to be issued; as that law will put many restrictions on the right of demonstration to the extent of its confiscation, especially that the law doesn’t include any conditions and clauses for the restriction of the right of demonstration that are compatible with the international standards of human rights. As long as there is no violence or property damage, then demonstrations are considered a right for each and every citizen as stipulated by international conventions and standards of human rights, also these international standards have protected freedom of opinion and expression.

 

EOHR asserts that the law of demonstration that is intended to be proposed is inconsistent with the right of demonstration as it’s considered to be a form of collective opinion that is expressed during demonstrations; hence the new law should have been collectively discussed through the National Council for Human Rights and civil activists, as well as holding a survey that will reflect the opinion of the political force about the new law. Also, the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the law will not allow the application of the law after its ratification; as the Egyptian people will not abide by it.

In this regard, Hafez Abu Seada, President of EOHR, has asserted that the law should involve the right of organizing demonstrations as well as putting some regulations for the organization of that right of demonstration in order to establish a balance between exercising the right of demonstration and protecting national security, public order, and the rights of other citizens who will not participate in demonstrations.

The researchers working in the Organization have embarked on studying the new draft law proposed by the government and they have reached the following conclusion:

  • The definition: Demonstration should be defined as the practice of the freedom of expression and collective opinion, and these rights should be restricted only in the case of the protection of other people.
  • The need to address that demonstrations and assemblies should be permissible and allowed, and prior permission should is unnecessary.
  •  The law, which regulates the right of demonstration, should not encompass articles provided in the penal code especially those which refer to blocking roads and encroaching upon public and private facilities; this is stated in article 162 of the penal code that requires strict punishment.
  • The new law, waiting for its ratification, encompasses many restrictions on the freedom to demonstration, as well as imposing punishments on those who won’t abide by it.

The most prominent articles in the law state the following; prohibiting public assembly and demonstrations in places of worship, prohibiting carrying weapons, prohibiting wearing masks or any cover hiding the face, and prohibiting crippling the citizens’ interests and obstructing the traffic movement. Also, the law provides the Minister of Interior or the Security Chief the right of cancelling public assemblies, or demonstrations, or postponing them, or moving them to another place in case of any violation committed or if anyone doesn’t abide by the law. The law also stipulates the means of dispersing demonstrations and public assemblies in a gradual manner; as the dispersion shall start with a verbal warning, followed by the usage of water hoses, followed by the usage of tear gas, and finally the usage of batons. Security forces are prohibited to use excessive force more than the means stated in the law, only in a case of “legitimate self-defense “. According the new law the governors shall specify an area ranging between 50 to 100 meters that will be prohibited for the demonstrators to bypass; this area will be in front of presidential and parliamentary premises, or the premises of the cabinet, the ministries, the governorates, prisons, and police stations. Moreover, the law specifies the punishment of those who stirs the organizations of demonstrations or those who get paid for demonstrating without prior permission; the punishment will be either imprisonment or paying a fine of 300 thousands Egyptian Pounds, this is also applicable for those who incite committing murder even if it hasn’t occurred. Also, the law stipulates in Article 9 that, “The right to public assembly, or to procession, or to demonstration shall not entail a strike in, or staying in the places of demonstration, or disrupting security or public order, or obstructing the citizens’ interests and exposing them to danger, or preventing them from exercising their rights and work, or blocking road and obstructing the movement of any mean of transportation, or obstructing the flow of traffic, or/and encroaching upon lives, public and private properties, and jeopardizing them.

Finally, EOHR refers to the pitfalls in the penalties stated in the law which are not compatible with the right to demonstration. Also, the new law criminalizes the right to sit-ins which is considered a part and parcel of the demonstrations in case of the absence of the required demands of the demonstrators. In addition, permitting the authorities to prevent demonstrations before it has started is considered a major restriction and a barrier to the lawful right to peaceful demonstration and assembly.

 

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 19th, 2013 at 6:08 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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