Egypt parliament extends state of emergency

[JURIST] The Egyptian Parliament on Tuesday voted to extend the country’s state of emergency for two years. Despite the two-year extension, parliament voted to limit the application of the emergency laws only to cases of terrorism and drug trafficking. In a speech [text, PDF; in Arabic] to parliament, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif [official profile] said:

The emergency law will not be used to undermine freedoms or infringe upon rights if these two threats are not involved. The Government also commits itself to enforce safeguards regarding the use of these measures as required by the Constitution, the law and international agreements, and that all such measures be taken under judicial supervision. These are the standards which we will impose upon ourselves and which we are committed to because we are an ancient nation that has contributed to human rights; contributions which have been codified in constitutions, laws and treaties which we are committed to fulfilling.

Opposition groups are protesting the extension of the emergency laws, claiming they have been ineffective and are used to stifle dissent.

One of the groups opposed to the extension of the emergency laws is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which has been banned in Egypt. Last month, Attorney General Abdul Magid Mahmoud announced that five international MB members will be tried in an Egyptian criminal court on charges of money laundering. Egypt has also used the emergency laws extensively against other opposition parties. In July, the trial of 26 individuals with alleged ties to Hezbollah was transferred to a court established under the emergency laws. In February 2009, a military court utilized the laws during a trial in which it sentenced  opposition leader Magdy Ahmed Hussein to two years in prison. The emergency laws have been in effect continuously since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and were renewed most recently in May 2008.

Meantime Alkarama reports that Ibrahim Mujahid, after being twice tortured, is now illegaly held at Damanhour prison. Mujahid was arrested on 8 March 2010 by security guards of Kwaisna Art Institute while he was putting up posters written by students in support the Al-Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem). The guards led him to their office where they tied him up and severely beat him all over his body.

On 28 April 2010, Alkarama sent his case to the Special Rapporteur on Torture, requesting that the Egyptian authorities conduct a full and impartial investigation into the acts of torture suffered by Ibrahim Mujahid, to establish who is responsible in order punish the perpetrators.

After being tortured by the security guards, they handed Ibrahim Mujahid over to police officers in Al-Kwaisna who also insulted, threatened and violently beat him. They also prevented him from sleeping and drinking for three days. He was then presented to the court of Al-Kwaisna, where the prosecutor ordered his immediate release after ruling that, in fact, he hadn’t broken the law.

However, the release order was not carried out, and on 11 March 2010 Ibrahim Mujahid was transferred to the local intelligence headquarters in Al-Kum Beshbeen. He was placed under administrative detention on the pretext of “belonging to a banned religious organization.”

On 12 March 2010, Ibrahim Mujahid was again taken to Al-Kwaisna police station. On the following day he was transferred to Damanhour prison, where he is currently being held without any contact with the outside world.

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2 Responses

  1. […] emergency law which has been in place since 1967 (apart from a short break around 1980). According to the government the resolution before parliament asking for the extension “includes for the first time legal […]

  2. […] while being arrested in Alexandria on June 6, in the context of Egypt’s semi-permanent (and recently renewed) emergency […]

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