Egypt Seeks to Extend Emergency Law
Egypt Seeks to Extend Emergency Law
Tuesday, May 27,2008 13:23

The Egyptian government is seeking to extend its emergency law, which gives the security forces sweeping powers in making arrests and holding people in detention without due legal process.
The one-year extension plan coincides with a fresh wave of arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members.
Eighteen members of the outlawed group were arrested across the country on Sunday. The Muslim Brotherhood is the most popular opposition group in Egypt and is viewed as a threat by the ruling National Democratic Party.
The Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt since 1954 but is tolerated to some extent by the authorities.
The emergency law has been in effect since 1981 and is supposed to expire at the end of the month. The law allows the police to hold detainees for long periods and enables the authorities to refer civilians to military courts, where they have fewer rights.
Rights organizations have criticized this law, claiming it is used as a tool to stifle political opponents.
The law was supposed to be replaced by an anti-terrorism law, which would grant similar powers, but lawmakers have failed to prepare this law on time. Critics say the new anti-terrorism law will have a similar effect as the emergency law.
An unnamed official said the government was expected to propose the law soon to the parliament, according to Reuters.
During the 2005 presidential elections Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak promised to scrap the emergency law.
The extension of the emergency law is likely to anger Washington, which has recently been critical of Cairo’s human rights record.
There are moves in the U.S. Congress to condition the considerable financial aid Egypt receives from the U.S. on Cairo’s improvement of its human rights record and progress on reform.