Twenty Egyptian human rights organisations published a joint statement on Thursday that claims that the counter-terrorism law, drafted by the interior ministry in September, would "serve as the legal basis for the re-establishment of the police state", like the one that controlled the country before the January 2011 popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Among the signatories of Thursday's statement were the Egyptian
Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), The Hisham Mubarak Law Centre,
the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and the Arabic Network for
Human Rights information.
According to the statement, the current bill broadens the definition of ''terrorist acts'' in a dangerous way. It is going to include activities like "disrupting the authorities from carrying out some of their activities," "acts which seek to hinder the implementation of the constitution or the law" and "preventing
educational institutions from carrying out their work." An "act of
terrorism," as defined by the proposed bill, also extends to "any
behavior which damages the communications or information systems, the
financial systems, or the national economy," the statement adds.
Such broad provisions could open the way to harassment of "peaceful
political opposition members, human rights activists, and a broad range
of groups working to defend democracy and human rights," the human
rights organisations stated.
''The provisions of the current bill could also be easily employed to curb freedom of opinion and expression and media freedoms. The
death penalty, which the international community seeks to abolish or,
at the very least, to limit the crimes in national legislation for which
it can be imposed, also appears in seven additional articles of the
current bill. The provisions of the current bill are in blatant violation of the
principle of equality before the law and of standards for guarantees of a
fair trial, as they deprive the accused of a number of legal and
procedural protections which are guaranteed to other defendants under
the law, they added.
"Continuing the same practices of the Mubarak regime, such as setting
aside the principle of rule of law and resorting instead to repressive
security measures and exceptional laws which undermine human rights and
the foundations of the rule of law, will only serve to increase the
occurrence of acts of armed violence and terrorism," the statement read.