Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

12 March 2013

Egypt Presidency Says Only Police Responsible for Security

Egypt's presidential spokesman, Ihab Fahmy, has said that making arrests and maintaining security are the responsibility of the state and that the interior ministry is the concerned body.

Fahmy added in a statement that was reported by the state news agency that the government is keen on supporting the interior ministry at this critical time, calling on all forces to cooperate to restore the trust between the people and the police apparatus.

Police officers and central security forces began strikes in Cairo and other locations in recent weeks in protest against their involvement in political disputes and what they described as their inadequate preparation to confront violence.

In response to the strikes, some ultraconservative Islamist groups had called for communal police to assume the responsibility of maintaining security which some liberal politicians saw as an attempt to leave room for illegal militias to take the law into their own hands.

Egypt's general prosecutor had said that vandalism of public or private property, blocking roads, disrupting public transportation, spreading terror among citizens or preventing employees from entering their offices are all flagrant violations of the law that allow for arrest without a court order.

The prosecution statement on Sunday called on police officers and army forces to carry on their duties, according to the law, and immediately arrest outlaws who are caught in the act and refer them to the authorities - without warrants or court orders.

Describing it as a "national duty", it also encouraged citizens to practice their constitutional right to catch criminals who are caught in the act and refer them to the authorities or at least report their crimes.

After debates and concerns rose among political forces, the prosecutor insisted on Monday that his statement was not to grant ordinary citizens the right to arrest outlaws but to merely inform them of their constitutional right to turn in suspects who are caught in the act.

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