In Support of the Human Rights Committee: The Government Must Maintain its Commitment to Ending the State of Emergency on 31 May

Press Release

21 May 2012

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) welcomed the demands of the Human Rights Committee of the People's Assembly that the government must fully commit to ending the state of emergency by 31 May 2012. Deputy Mohamed Anwar el-Sadat, head of the Committee, has sent a letter in its name which demands that the government, and in particular the Interior Minister, must announce their plan to bring an end to the state of emergency, including releasing all those detained under its aegis.

The Committee also asked the Public Prosecutor to present a report on all cases which have been referred to State Security emergency courts in the last two years. It also asked that this report contain a mechanism for dealing with these cases after the state of emergency is lifted.

Hossam Bahgat, Executive Director of EIPR, said: 'The People's Assembly – both its president and members – must adopt the position of the Human Rights Committee. It must put pressure on all relevant parties so that the 1st June becomes the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Egyptians, in which the dark period of emergency rule comes to an end, and we begin to establish the rule of law and respect for the dignity of every individual without discrimination.'

According to numbers available to the EIPR, there are currently no less than 89 people held in Egyptian prisons who were placed under administrative detention in the last few months of 2011 and the first few of 2012. All of them were detained by the Criminal Investigations Bureau, and more than half of them arrested in their homes. While for a number of them the reason for arrest is not know, most of them were arrested for criminal and not political reasons. In this context, the Human Rights Committee has applied to the head of the People's Assembly for approval to form a small parliamentary delegation to visit al-Wadi al-Gadid prison, where most of the detainees are being held, to determine the conditions of detention.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had partially lifted the state of emergency at the beginning of this year, retaining it to deal with cases of 'thuggery.' This meant, in practice, that the state of emergency continues until its end on 31 May. This is the date specified for its end according to presidential decree no. 126 of 2010, which extended the state of emergency for two years, considered as from 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2012.

At the beginning of this month, EIPR sent letters to a number of leaders and Deputies in the People's Assembly, as well as to the Public Prosecutor and the Interior Minister. The letters emphasised the importance of taking a number of necessary measures to ensure the end of all the effects of the state of emergency, under which Egypt has lived without interruption since 1981. These procedures were included in the statement issued by the Human Rights Committee of the People's Assembly.