News / Africa

Egypt’s State Of Emergency Law Expires

Egyptian youth return to Tahrir square to protest the outcome of presidential elections. Egyptian youth return to Tahrir square to protest the outcome of presidential elections.
x
Egyptian youth return to Tahrir square to protest the outcome of presidential elections.
Egyptian youth return to Tahrir square to protest the outcome of presidential elections.
Peter Clottey
Egypt’s state of emergency law, which has existed for the past 31 years, is expected to officially end Friday.

Clottey interview with Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Af
Clottey interview with Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Afi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, said the government has often used the law as a tyrannical tool against Egyptians for the last three decades.

 “We are delighted to hear, finally, that this much hated [and] widely abused law is going to expire. Good riddance to a law that has been used to persecute Egyptians for no good reason for so many decades,” said Whitson.

“Fundamentally, this is a law that allows, and has allowed, the government to detain people without charge for months, years and even decades, and to also try them in the so-called emergency courts that have very few of the protections that are required for detainees.”

The emergency law was implemented following the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

Analysts say the measure provides the government sweeping powers which enable security agencies to arrest and indefinitely detain individuals without charge, censure the media, as well as ban protests.

Pro-democracy activists, who brought down long-time leader Hosni Mubarak’s presidency following protests, have demanded an end to the law.  The army, which took the reins of government following Mubarak’s resignation, promised to bring the emergency law to an end.

 Whitson underscored the significance of allowing the law to expire.

“What it means for the ordinary Egyptian is an end to the days when police or security forces could put him in jail and throw away the key without ever bringing charges against him, or by prosecuting him through these deeply flawed security courts,” continued Whitson.

“It means a level of security and guarantees that, for the government to jail someone, they need to have evidence, it needs to be brought before a judge, and it needs to be part of a regular judicial procedure with guarantees for defendants, for example, access to a lawyer.” 

Some observers expressed security concerns following the expiration of the emergency law. They said the country could be left in a vacuum. But, Whitson said those assertions are erroneous.

“I think that reflects a misunderstanding of the very strong laws that already exist in Egypt.  Criminal codes, for example, that gives the government plenty of authority to jail people who are suspected of committing criminal acts.  And, that is what the government should be relying on.  And, it should be trying people in regular civilian courts, not special security courts.”

Supporters of the emergency law warn its expiration could mean an upsurge of criminal activities across Egypt.  But, in a televised broadcast, the military announced it will “continue to carry its national responsibility in protecting the country until the transfer of power is over,” as the country prepares for a presidential run-off vote.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid