Monday, April 28, 2008

Emergency Law have to end says NCHR´s Abu al Magd

Vice President of the the government affiliated National Council for Human Rights,Ahmed Kamel Abu al Magd urges the government not to backtrack on it´s intensions to end the Emergency Law(EL) , after the two year grace period, supposed to end on May 31st and that was ment to produce a ¨modern¨ counter-terrorism law in it´s place.

"I don't expect an extension of that law, as the government is trying to pass the new Counterterrorism Act. People want to see reasonable restrictions and not confiscation of liberties, which is difficult but not impossible."

He also said that the new law was supposed to be debated in public prior to parliament submission, something that didn´t materialize. He also cautioned against carbon copying the current EL into the counter-terrorism law, and in that way embody both the spirit and letter of the supposedly exceptional Emergency Law, that has been a permanent feauture of Egyptian daily life since June 1967, with the exception of sixteen months during May 1980-October 1981,and in that way making the EL permanent. Other Human Rights organizations has also cautioned against this in the past. The NDP members of parliament on the other hand dosen´t seem to be that keen on it´s abolishment. When the renewal of the EL was hurriedly voted through parliament in May 2006 , the only brave NDP member of parliament to vote against it was Taher Hozayen from Esna. Of course Abu al Magd himself, and indeed an overwhelming majority of the NCHR was against the abolishment of the EL in the not so distant past.

The problem in my view, is that the state has no intention of giving up it´s most potent weapon in it´s arsenal against any security or political threat in the forseeable future, especially not while in the middle of a succesion process. The evidence of that has been proven correct time and time again, the latest being the military trial of Khairat al Shater and his fellow Muslim Brothers, as well as the Interior Ministry decision to rearrest Esraá abd al Fattah and others in the wake of April 6th according to the Emergency Law, when court orders for their release were issued.

The end of the Emergency Law , could have been a symbolic gesture of great importance. The 2005 election promise didn´t materialize ,at one point that could really have signalled change. Unfortunately, as things stands today, the ending of the Emergency Law, will only be used by the NDP spinndoctors, while providing no change in substance whatsoever, to the people of Egypt, in terms of their basic human and political rights.

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