Egypt's interior ministry is working on "refining its police corps to remove an incompetent minority that defames the police force" through a framework of transparent measures and the imposition of the rule of law on all, minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a meeting with high-ranking police officers, according to a ministry statement, the interior minister highlighted the importance of developing and updating services provided to citizens by the police, executing all procedures aiming to ease services for them, and caring about the public’s needs.
The ministry has faced criticism after a series of accusations of police abuses, the latest being the alleged killing of an unarmed tuk-tuk driver by traffic police officer in the governorate of Menoufiya last month.
Several policemen have been referred to and sentenced by criminal courts for assaults and killings; the interior ministry has maintained that such incidents are isolated cases.
Last year, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi pledged to hold accountable policemen guilty of "violations" after a series of deaths in police custody, allegedly caused by torture, sparked public outcry.
The minister also addressed the ministry's strategy in fighting terrorism, praising his forces' efforts in North Sinai.
He presented recent updates on the domestic and regional level as well as their effect on Egypt's domestic affairs and security. Abdel-Ghaffar stressed the urgency of continued efforts by the security forces to enhance security plans in the light of what he described as terrorist groups recent attempts to resort to "unprecedented" violence targeting innocent citizens.
"This calls for absolute procedures and unorthodox work in facing such criminal acts," he said.
He added that the goals of “terrorist organisations” are to create disunity and threaten stability, to portray the state apparatus as one that is unable to protect its citizens.
"The elements of evil and terrorism will not be able to defeat the Egyptian nation and the police and army's determination to defend the country and preserve its security," the minister said.
The meeting comes in the midst of the fleeing of dozens of Christian families from North Sinai to other parts of the country, after a spate of recent killings of Copts by Islamist militants.
The recent series of killings of Copts in North Sinai came after the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State militant group called on its supporters to attack Christians across the country, in a video in which it claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a church in Cairo in December.
Several days after the video was released, three Christians were murdered in Arish, the capital of North Sinai governorate, bringing the number of Christians killed the region in the last month to seven.
Several of the previous killings were claimed by Islamic State-affiliated militants.
Christians are estimated to make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
The number of families who fled the threats by the Islamic State group to the Suez Canal city of ismailia jumped to 143 families on Tuesday, according to a spokesman from the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The interior minister said last week that his ministry is responsible for the safety of all citizens across the whole country, including North Sinai, vowing to continue the fight against terrorism, sparing no effort.
According to Abdel-Ghaffar, the ministry has not asked any citizens to leave North Sinai.