Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Egypt returns back to the state of emergency

Late Sunday following the terrorist attacks on Egyptian Orthodox cathedrals that killed at least 46 in Alexandria and Tanta, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi held an urgent meeting for Egypt's National Defense council.

Hours following the meeting, El-Sisi addressed the Egyptian people in a recorded speech telling to "bear the pain" criticizing at the same time the terrorist attack's coverage in mainstream media.
He also announced that he gave his orders to the Egyptian armed forces to help the police in protect vital infrastructures and facilities.

Then President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the emergency law in Egypt after following the legal conditions

Once again, we are back to the emergency law.
Technically, we lived under emergency law in Egypt in most of our lives in the 20th Century.
We have been living under the state of emergency for the past 83 years. From the 1910s till 2010s, we got only 17 years in total we have lived without the state of emergency.

It is like a curse left by the British occupation just like the infamous bureaucracy that we can not get rid of it.
On Monday, PM Ismail Sherif announced that State of emergency would be in effect starting at 1 PM Cairo local nationwide.
At the same time, he announced that he sent to the House of Representatives asking its members to approve the State of emergency.
Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday at the National
defense council meeting "Egyptian Presidency" 
According to the constitution's article no.154, the House of Representatives must approve within 7 days on the State of emergency.
Just as all the country expected on Monday that the parliament would approve the state of emergency, its speaker and MPs surprised us by sending the Tiran and Sanafir agreement to the legislative committee and approving the amendments to the protest law.
Yup, against all odds the Parliament speaker sent the Tiran and Sanafir agreement to the legislative at 2.05 PM Cairo despite the High Administrative court order.

Needless to say, protesting the Egyptian Saudi demarcation deal will be like a mission impossible during the state of emergency publicly.
It also approved the new amendments to the controversial protest law.

On Tuesday, the majority of the parliament as expected approved in an initial vote the emergency law as well its amendments without any serious discussion.

It is enough to know that the parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal said that the time of "normal laws" was over and it was the time of "exceptional laws".
The professor of Constitution who also participated in writing the current constitution also added that the "interests of the nation" came "first" before any "constitution" or "law".
This sounds more than alarming.

The parliament sent the emergency law and its amendments to the State council to revise it. Then, it will return back to the parliament for a final vote.
Nevertheless, since 1 PM Monday afternoon, it has been in effect across the country.
The state council's role here is advisory.

What can happen in the state of emergency?

Theoretically speaking, the conditions and terms of applying state of emergency in the 2014-Constitution are improved comparing to previous constitutions.
For instance, the state of emergency in 2012-constitution would be applied for six months while in 2014-constitution we are speaking about three months only.
But and here is a big but, we are speaking about the state of emergency at the end of the day. It can affect the country badly in three months just either ways and there are many examples
For instance:
  •  According to the amendments approved by the parliament on Tuesday, detentions can occur without warrants and outside of cases in flagrante delicto.
  • The amendments allow indefinite temporary detentions.
You can read in details in Mada Masr more about those amendments. These are the amendments alone.
Moving to the law itself, here are few examples.  :
  • The law allows the trial of civilians in front of "special courts" aka "Emergency High state security court" upon the orders of the President who has the right to appoint army officers in the judges' panel of those courts.
  • The law gives the president the power to refer defendants in any criminal cases to those courts.
  • The Emergency high state security court's verdicts can not be appealed. Only the president has the right to pardon or overturn or reduce the sentences of those courts.
  • The law allows the authorities to withdraw weapons' licenses.
  • The law allows the State to impose curfews, to evacuate and to cordon areas according to the written or oral orders of the president.
  • The law allows the President to oversee all means of telecommunication and media as well confiscating newspapers and magazines.
  • The law allows the government to oversee social media networks and shutting down accounts. 
This is just a glimpse of what can happen.
Ironically and sadly, the government does not need that law or its amendments as it already allows itself to detain people indefinitely in temporary pre-trial detention and it confiscates newspapers with the law.
Also, many people including myself wondered Why El-Sisi and the government did not apply the new Counterterrorism law when it got very similar articles especially the president's powers and the answer is in those words "Emergency high state security court".
Yes, the only difference between the two laws that the old emergency law got special courts whereas the new counterterrorism depends on the current courts in the country.
I am extremely worried about that state of emergency.
Terrorists do not care if the country applies state of emergency or not. They do not recognize our laws already.

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