Egypt cabinet finalises law 'protecting revolutionary gains'

Ahram Online, Sherif Tarek, Monday 15 Oct 2012

Described by critics as 'new emergency law,' draft legislation aimed at 'protecting society from dangerous persons' and 'protecting gains of revolution' is finalised by Egypt's cabinet

Egypt cabinet finalises controversial law for
Egyptian riot police throw stones at demonstrators during clashes close to the interior ministry in Cairo, Egypt, early Wednesday, June 29, 2011 (Photo: AP)

New draft legislation dubbed 'the law to protect society from dangerous persons and safeguard the gains of the 25 January Revolution' has reportedly been finalised by the Egyptian cabinet.

The draft law is comprised of nine articles giving the interior ministry the right to employ several controversial measures against those perceived to be dangerous criminals.

The bill has been criticised by the Cairo-based Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) as a "hidden emergency law."

The law's first article allows authorities to place suspected criminals under house arrest for up to 30 days, prohibit them from visiting certain locations, put them under police surveillance and oblige them to perform community service.

The law would be applied against anyone showing intent to use violence against individuals or establishments or threaten to do so, and against anyone who endangers public security or stability or threatens the material wellbeing of the citizenry.

The second article of the law defines criminal as anyone who frequently commits crimes including assault; kidnapping; bribery; money laundering; trading in arms, explosives or narcotics; vandalism; disrupting traffic; prostitution; violating the right to work; and thuggery, among other crimes.

The EOHR stated in September that the bill "violates the rights and freedoms that represent the basis of the January 25 Revolution, thanks to the powers granted to police personnel."

"It is similar to the emergency law and the thuggery law, which did too little to quash thuggish acts," lawyer Ahmed Fawzi had initially told Ahram Online when the bill was first discussed in the media.

"If authorities are serious about restoring law and order, they have to meet the people's basic demands, such as calls for a minimum wage," Fawzi added.

"If the police think this law will allow them to do things the same way they used to under Mubarak, this will definitely not be the way to sort things out," he said, referring to police repression under the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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