In a press statement Monday, Ahmed Mefreh, rights researcher at Geneva-based Alkarama for Human Rights organization, said: "According to news reports, a new law is to legitimize military presence in civilian life under the pretext of protecting public property and facilities – a new form of militarization of the state at large in Egypt, which also legitimizes further military trials for civilians.
"The government has issued a decree authorizing the participation of the armed forces in police protection of public and important buildings and facilities, for a period of two years. Crimes committed against these facilities are to be referred to the military prosecutor and military justice."
Mefreh added: "This law-by-decree will give soldiers arrest powers for a period of two years. This is what the military council (SCAF) tried to impose, previously, to legalize the presence of military forces in the streets and squares of Egypt, under the pretext of maintaining security, by a decree issued by the Minister of Justice at the time, which the Court of Administrative Justice annulled on January 26, 2012.
"The ’emergency’ powers given to the army by this new law are both unconstitutional and illegal. In fact, they constitute a flagrant circumvention of the official termination of the state of emergency. Indeed, this law imposes much worse restrictions than the state of emergency, and provides legal cover for them. Under the Emergency Law, tens of thousands of civilians were arrested and tortured, some even killed. This new decree will provide legal cover for the intervention of the armed forces in the everyday life of the Egyptian people.
"It would also expose thousands of civilians to prosecution and military justice, especially since it is issued in the midst of a political crisis and tension directly related to SCAF’s failures in managing the affairs of the country during the transitional phase."
In conclusion, Mefreh stressed that: "This is one of the worst of the repressive laws passed and implemented since the July 3, 2013 coup. It will not be recognized or accepted by local or international human rights organizations, just like the emergency law and the anti-protest law".