17 February 2013

Egypt: EOHR Calls Upon Minister of Interior to Undo Police Arming Decision

press release

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses worry for the official approval of General Mohamed Ibrahim, the Egyptian Minister of Interior, to import 100000 guns for arming the police soldiers and non-commissioned officers to face the outlaws. The import approval was given on February 16, 2013.

Recently, the policemen went on a protest against the Egyptian Ministry of Interior calling for arming and enhancement of working environment following murdering a police officer by one of the accused persons in Bani Suef.

EOHR views that arming policemen and drafting a new law for demonstration creates doubts regarding the way of dealing protesters in the near future. The massive arming of policemen opens the door to new policemen's violations. It could be an indicator to having security measures to deal with the opposition instead of the national dialogue that aims at gathering the political and social powers all together.

EOHR considers that arming the Egyptian police in this way comes in contradiction with Article III of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by staff, which stipulates that the use of force must be appropriate with the goal of intended project and the gravity of the crime. when training policing officers, the state should pay special attention to alternatives to the use of force, including the peaceful settlement of conflicts, and understanding the behavior of the public, and methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation in addition to technical means (including non-lethal weapons and protective clothing for police), as well as the necessity to have an exceptional use of force.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, criticized the ministerial decision for importing 100000 guns for arming the police soldiers and non-commissioned officers because it can easily open the door to new policemen's violations; the security officers still believe in impunity, after the Egyptian revolution. Abu Seada calls upon the Egyptian security to abide by maximum self control while dealing with civil protesters. He affirmed that arming policemen will increase using guns against the civilian protesters who call for their political, civil, economical and social rights, according to the international standards for human rights.

EOHR calls upon the Egyptian Minister of Interior to undo the abovementioned decision. Arming policemen this way is not acceptable, while a law for protecting civilians against use of firearms is absent. The legal frame for handling civil protests, according to the international standards for human rights, should exist first, and arming the police soldiers and non-commissioned officers has to come later.

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