31 January 2013

Egypt: Demonstration Law Restricting the Right to Public Participation

press release

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses intensive worry about the declaration issued by the Egyptian Shura Council restricting the right to protest in public places. This law was issued once before by the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. That time, the Egyptian political powers called upon the ministry to get it amended, but again it was issued by the same ministry, which has not met any of the political powers' demands.

Article no. 5 of the recently issued report mentioned that protesters must inform the police station controlling the area in which the protest would take place, five days at least before the protest occurrence. This provision came as a respond to the latest protests in Cairo and the Egyptian provinces. This provision chains the political powers that aim at taking actions against any emergency.

Article no. 6 included administrative conditions to the intended protests, such as date, place, time for protest start and end, reasons and demands of the protesters in addition to the expected number of protesters. This is a set of restrictions that limit the effectiveness of the demonstrations that are basically to put pressure on governments to comply with the protesters' demands. Therefore the government is seeking to unload the right to peaceful demonstration of its primary objectives, which is the ability to influence decision-makers regarding the protesters' demands.

Article no. 9 mentioned that the Egyptian Minister of Interior or the police commander supervising the protest area can simply submit an official application to the Ad-hoc judge to cancel, postpone or relocate the protest, based on substantial reasons; the ad-hoc judge shall issue a reasoned decision promptly.

Article no. 10 mentioned that the province governor in coordination with the Ministry of Interior specify an area of 500-square meters for an intended sit in.

Article no. 18 gave the security troops the right to shoot in the air during the protests. Many injuries took place while shooting in the air before.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, stated that the Egyptian revolution called for freedom of expression and assembly, which is one of the essential human rights. This law aims at chaining the Egyptian people in order not to oppose any of the current regime's decisions, he added. People under this law cannot control the unlimited powers given to only one Egyptian group.

EOHR calls upon the Egyptian government to reconsider the recently issued law of demonstration in order to comply with the international standards of human rights. EOHR has submitted a draft law for demonstration to the Egyptian government stressing on the rights of assembly and expression in accordance with the international standards for human rights, targeting achieving the real democracy and rule of law in Egypt, instead of achieving fake consensus or using false democratic terminologies to calm the masses' anger.

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