Egyptian government vows not to use Emergency Law against political opponents

The Egyptian government on Wednesday pledged not to use the Emergency Law as a means of cracking down on political opponents or on those expressing opposing opinions.

In a press statement, cabinet spokesman Mohamed Higazi said the law will be applied against those expressing their opinions in a blatantly non-peaceful manner during protests, as well as on those committing acts of thuggery, violence, rioting and spreading rumors.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) decided on Sunday to expand the scope of Egypt's Emergency Law, providing the authorities with wider powers of arrest, detention and prosecution.

The government's renewed commitment to implement the Emergency Law appears to contradict a vow by the SCAF to abolish it by 30 September, as per a constitutional declaration passed last March. The abolition of the Emergency Law has been a top demand of the 25 January revolution.

Egypt has lived under a state of emergency since 1981. Critics allege that the unchecked powers of arrest and detention granted to the Interior Ministry under the law’s provisions were used by the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak to silence his political opponents.

Rights groups estimate that some 10,000 people have been held without charges – sometimes for years – since the Emergency Law was first passed.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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