New legislative amendments stiffen penalties on Egypt’s police for rights violations

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 13 Mar 2016

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Magdi Al-Agati disclosed on Sunday that new amendments to the 'Police Law' were referred to parliament that aim to stem violations of human rights by police

A general view taken on January 10, 2016 shows members of Egypt's parliament meeting during a session in the capital Cairo (AFP)

Egypt's Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdi Al-Agati told reporters that the government submitted new amendments to the Police Law to parliament on sunday aimed at imposing harsher penalties for rights violations.

"These amendments will help a lot to impose discipline on the interior ministry and stem assaults by police against ordinary citizens," Al-Agati said.

The amendments were drafted upon the request of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi after a low-ranking policeman killed a taxi driver in Cairo's district of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar last month.

"These amendments aim to achieve two objectives: improve security performance and at the same time ensure that the interior ministry shows ultimate respect for human rights and the freedom of citizens in line with the new constitution," Al-Agati continued.

To achieve these objectives, Al-Agati indicated that the new amendments would stiffen penalties on policemen accused of violating human rights or the interior ministry's code of ethics.

"Violators or offenders will be dismissed from their jobs or referred to prosecution if they face felony or criminal charges," Al-Agati added.

No guns 

Al-Agati also indicated that policemen would be banned from holding guns when they are not on duty.

"They will only be able to hold guns when they are not on duty upon the approval of their bosses in certain security conditions," Al-Agati explained.

"In addition, policemen would also be banned by the new amendments from the right of organising protests.

"Violators could be sentenced to five years in prison," Al-Agati added.

The minister also indicated that the State Council, led by judge Mahmoud Raslan, has finalised revising the Police Law (Law no.109/1971) amendments on Saturday, after which they were sent to parliament on Sunday.

Al-Agati said the explanatory note about these amendments stress that in performing their duties, policemen would be required to show strict respect for human rights and for the principles of transparency and integrity.

"They will also be required to respect the dignity of citizens, and observe the principles of democracy and human rights as enshrined in the new constitution," he outlined.

"Policemen will be banned from exposing the nature of their jobs or duties or help publish any secret documents related to the police apparatus in public media outlets that might harm national security.

"Violators in this respect would be sent to jail and fined between LE10,000 and LE20,000." 

The amendments also bar policemen from joining political parties, professional syndicates or trade unions.

They also state that a "disciplinary council" would be formed to question policemen accused of violating human rights or assaulting citizens or contravening the ministry's code of ethics.

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