Thursday, June 14, 2012

Egyptian military extend powers of military police to make arrests

Egypt's government extended the powers of military police and intelligence agents on Wednesday to allow them to arrest civilians for a wide range of offenses. The extension would remain in effect until a new constitution is in place. 
Military officials said the arrest powers are a temporary measure intended to fill a security vacuum that arose from the uprising, when the police collapsed and disappeared from the streets. Gen. Adel el-Morsi, the head of military judiciary, told Al-Ahram 's website that 'there is a need to put in place a law to regulate the presence of army troops ... to enable them to secure presidential elections or carry out security sweeps to arrest fugitives and outlaws.'
The decision was sharply criticized by human rights organisations. Sixteen rights groups said in a joint statement that the decision 'doubles doubts' over the military's pledge to transfer power to a civilian authority and reinforces suspicions that the 'transfer of power will only be phony and won't prevent the military from remaining a major player in political life.'
Activists warned the new arrest powers recreate Egypt's notorious emergency law, which expired at the end of May after 31 years in force. This is a declaration of martial law, as if we are living in a banana republic,' said Gamal Eid, a prominent rights lawyer. Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef called the decision 'shocking' and said 'it is basically trying to confirm the fact that the military can continue to be involved in law enforcement ... in the absence of emergency laws.'

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