ECESR Press Releases Joint Press Releases Press Releases

Against Terrorism, Against the Restriction of Liberties

Joint Statement from Parties, Institutions, Rights Organizations, and Public Figures on the Proposed Counterterrorism Law

The undersigned institutions, political parties, rights organizations, and public figures urge the government to delay the issuance of the proposed counterterrorism law, as published in the press, until a broad and genuine social dialogue takes place about its feasibility, its articles, and the ways to achieve its objectives. The law should also not be passed until the seating of an elected parliament, which may issue the law after discussing its articles at length and ensuring that they do not contravene the constitution of 2014, which was approved by 98.1 percent in a public referendum.

The undersigned parties understand the danger of cowardly terrorist attacks and their assault on human rights, first and foremost the right to life, but we stress that terrorism cannot be confronted with laws or security approaches alone. It must be confronted ideologically and with a legal system that protects public liberties, establishes justice, involves society as a partner, and thus prevents more people from joining extremist organizations. Other laws have been passed on the same pretext of fighting terrorism—Law 97/1992 and Law 8/2015 on terrorist entities—but despite our reservations and the curtailments to civil liberties they entailed, these and dozens of articles in the Penal Code have not stopped the spike in terrorist attacks. The undersigned note that the draft counterterrorism law has met with opposition and reservations from various bodies and relevant agencies such as the Supreme Judicial Council, the Journalists’ Syndicate, and the National Council for Human Rights.

We believe that in light of Article 237 of the constitution, the proposed counterterrorism law qualifies as a complementary law, which means that under Article 121 of the constitution its adoption requires the approval of a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives. With this provision, the constitutional legislator clearly sought to ensure special protection against a simple parliamentary majority for such statutes while also ensuring that they were subject to exhaustive debate prior to adoption. This will not be the case if the president issues the law in the absence of a parliament. Moreover, the bill has not been put to the public for any discussion of its articles. The undersigned parties fear the vague, overly broad language used in the proposed law, its infringement of the rights protected in the constitution and its undermining of civil liberties.

The undersigned also note that whilst the president himself admitted “there are innocents inside the prisons,” the undersigned fear that their numbers will only increase by virtue of the additional measures imposed by the new law. We fear that the increased number of “innocents” will facilitate time-bombs threatening social peace and security. This situation contradicts the very objectives of the draft law.

We reiterate that terrorism cannot be fought with statutes that confiscate civil liberties, but only by bringing in society as a full partner in the confrontation of violent groups and by animating constitutional provisions in the realm of liberties and economic and social rights. There must be an open dialogue, inclusive of all forces that reject violence, regarding ways to manage the public sphere and confront violent extremism and terrorism.

Signatories (in alphabetical order):

Human rights organizations

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. The Egyptian Coalition for the Rights of the Child
  3. National group for human rights and law
  4. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
  5. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  6. The Human Right Association for the Assistance of the Prisoners
  7. Arab Network for Human Rights Information
  8. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  9. United-Group, Attorneys at Law, Legal Researchers and Human Rights Advocates
  10. The Land Center for Human Rights
  11. Alhaqanya Center for Law and Legal profession
  12. The Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies
  13. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
  14. El-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture
  15. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
  16. Hesham Mobarak Law Center
  17. Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development
  18. Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination
  19. Egyptian Commission for rights and freedoms
  20. The New Woman Foundation
  21. The Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions
  22. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
  23. Arab Penal Reform Organization

Political Parties

  1. Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  2. Socialist Popular Alliance Party
  3. Popular Current Party (under establishment)
  4. Constitution Party
  5. Bread and Freedom Party
  6. Freedom Egypt Party
  7. El-Adl party

Public figures

  1. Ahmad Fawzi – Secretary General of the Egyptian Democratic Party
  2. Ahmed Ezzat – Human rights lawyer
  3. Ahmed Kamel Buheiry – Popular Current
  4. Amin Iskander – Popular Current
  5. Amr Hamzawy – Professor of Political Science
  6. Ayman Al-Sayad- Egyptian writer and journalist
  7. Dr. Hoda ElSadda – Professor of Comparative Literature at Cairo University and member of the “Committee of 50”
  8. Elhamy al-Merghany – Vice-President of Socialist Popular Alliance Party
  9. Emad Mubark – Human rights activist
  10. Fady Iskander – Popular Current
  11. Farid Zahran – Vice-President, Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  12. Farida al-Niqash – Egyptian writer and journalist
  13. Hamdeen Sabahi- Founder of the Popular Current
  14. Hossam Muanas – Popular Current
  15. Hussein Abdel-Razek – Member of the “Committee of 50” tasked with writing of the 2014 Constitution
  16. Kamal Abbas – Human rights activist
  17. Khaled Al-Balshi – Head of the Freedoms’ Committee at the Press Syndicate
  18. Khaled Ali – Founding member of the Bread and Freedom Party
  19. Khaled Mansour – Egyptian writer and journalist
  20. Maha Abu Nasr- Assistant Secretary-General, Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  21. Medhat al-Zahid – Vice-President, Socialist Popular Alliance Party
  22. Mohammed Abd al-Aziz – Member of the “Committee of 50”
  23. Mohammed Arafat – Secretary of mass action, Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  24. Negad El-Borai – Lawyer
  25. Raed Salamah – Popular Current
  26. Talat Fahmy – Secretary-General, Socialist Popular Alliance Party

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