No return of military trials for Egypt's lower-ranking policemen, says minister

Menna Alaa El-Din , Monday 22 Feb 2016

Egypt's Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said that 99% of lower-ranking policemen are 'honourable men'

Magdy Abdel Ghaffar
Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The return of military trials for policemen is not among legal amendments intended to regulate security services' performance, Egypt's Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said on Monday.

In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Abdel-Ghaffar said that the legislative amendments would not only be relevant for lower ranking policemen, but for the whole police force.

"The aim of the amendments is to regulate the relationship between the policeman and citizens, which would ensure the citizen the protection of his rights," Abdel-Ghaffar said.

The press conference came after a meeting between Abdel-Ghaffer and Ismail following increasing reports and incidents of police abuse.

The latest example was Thursday's killing of a 24-year-old driver in a Cairo neighbourhood by a policeman following a dispute over money, according to witnesses.

The incident prompted hundreds of people to converge outside Cairo security directorate to protest against the police.

Abdel-Ghaffar pointed out that the recent events have shaken the confidence of the police force.

He added that 99 percent of lower ranking policemen were "honourable" men, and elaborated that individual violations were by a "minority."

Commenting on whether the weapons would be withdrawn from the policemen, the minister said that they were currently re-drafting the rules for carrying firearms.

He explained that the carrying of weapons as property, entrusted to the individual with a duty of care, was something required by policemen during a period when they are being targeted by terrorism.

He said that the new guidelines were being set to verify who is and isn't eligible from the police force to hold weapons.

A source close to the interior ministry told Ahram Online that the legal amendments involve weapons being withdrawn from lower-ranking policemen following the end of their duty.

He also said that there would be rehabilitation through new training sessions for lower ranking policemen and that both the public security bureau and national security bureau already carry out evaluations of them policemen every six months.  

He continued to say that violators from the police force would be suspended for a time period, depending on what the disciplinary board decides.

The source refuted media reports suggesting that a group of lower- ranking policemen are set to file resignations in protest.

The interior ministry will rely on graduates of the Police Representatives Institute after the lower-ranking policemen institute closed 15 years ago.

The changes made by the interior ministry are then set to be sent to the cabinet for approval. The cabinet will then pass the draft bill to the state council, which will then be handed over to the parliament for discussion. The process must be completed within 15 days, as requested by Egyptian President El-Sisi on Friday.

If the majority of parliament approves the amendments, the president is then expected to ratify it.

On Friday, El-Sisi ordered the “legislative amendments” to be presented to parliament after an impromptu meeting with Abdel-Ghaffar, where the minister provided the president with the latest domestic security developments following recent events.

The president said that “irresponsible acts by some members of the police force” should be dealt with on an individual basis and those responsible held to account. 

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