Egypt Watch

Emergency Law Amendments: More powers handed to al-Sisi

8 Egyptian human rights organizations, in a joint statement, condemned what it described as the Egyptian government’s exploitation of the Corona pandemic as a justification for amending the emergency law. The new amendments to the emergency law gave more powers to the armed forces.

The army officers were granted the authority of the judicial police, and the military prosecutor was granted the authority to investigate crimes that were seized with their knowledge, and limiting the role of the public prosecutor to merely referring to the judiciary.

The amendments also allowed the President of the Republic the authority to assign jurisdiction to investigate crimes that violate the emergency law to the Military Prosecution, as well as to amend the formation of the Supreme State Security Emergency Court to permanently include military judges, after it was merely an exception in the Emergency Law. The amendments allow the president to close schools, suspend public services, prevent public and private gatherings and impose quarantine on travelers coming to the country. It also allows the president to limit trade of some products, lay hands on private medical centers and transfer schools, educational centers and other public facilities to field hospitals.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch described the amendments as an excuse to create new repressive powers. Kenneth Roth, the organization’s executive director, said, “The Sisi government is using the Corona pandemic to expand the abusive Egyptian emergency law, not reform it. The Egyptian authorities must deal with public health concerns without adding new repression tools that Sisi himself has shown he is fully prepared to use.”