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Egypt's parliament approves first round of police law amendments

Parliament aims to overhaul police law: more pay for police; end to court martial system; police officers can no longer become judges

Ahram Online , Monday 14 May 2012
Judge Abdel Magid Mahmoud
Judge Abdel Magid Mahmoud presides over a trial of men accused of involvement in a soccer stampede at Port Said (Photo: Reuters)

On Sunday Egypt's parliament approved amendments to the police law, which entail an increase in the wages afforded to police cadets and replacing court martials with disciplinary panels.

MP Mohamed El-Beltagi of the majority Freedom and Justice Party said that the attention paid to this law "reveals that parliament does not wish to work against the police force".

The Egyptian police force has a reputation of egregious abuses of force throughout the corrupt years of the Mubarak regime and against protesters and activists throughout this year's revolution.

"On the contrary," says the El-Beltagi, "parliament even aims to defend the police force and improve the state of security in the country".

Additionally, parliament prohibited former police officers from working in the judiciary, as was common practice under the Mubarak regime. Police officers back then could even serve as judges - seen as a breech of the impartiality a judge is supposed to possess.

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) must approve the amendments before they can be enacted.

These amendments come in response to repeated demonstrations by police cadets since the January 25 Revolution calling for a definitive labour status, improvements in their standard of living via a wage increase, medical benefits and for a promotions and pay scale be established and followed.

Yet to be passed are amendments to the judiciary law that the legislative committee of the People's Assembly (lower house) is considering, whereby the general prosecutor would be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Judiciary instead of the president of the republic, as is the case now.

A day after parliament approved the amendments, several civilian staff at the ministry of interior protested outside Cairo's downtown parliament building as they held their legislative session. This Monday morning, protesters similarly called for an improvement in their living standards and for a promotion and pay scale to be implemented.

The parliament's youth committee called for the release of the students currently undergoing military prosecution following clashes near the defence ministry in Abbasiya, Cairo, on 4 May.

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