Sunday,22 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1285, (3 - 9 March 2016)
Sunday,22 October, 2017
Issue 1285, (3 - 9 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Reining in the police

New legislation has been proposed to the cabinet to help curb police excesses, reports Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Interior Ministry has proposed a final draft of the Police Law’s legislative amendments to the cabinet. The step follows recent fatal shooting incidents and abuse involving law enforcement officials.

“After long hours of work, the committee in charge of reviewing the legal amendments of the law presented it to the interior minister last Thursday before it was proposed to the cabinet,” said Major-General Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim, deputy of the interior minister for public relations and media.

“After it is sent to the cabinet, the draft law will be referred to the State Council and then the House of Representatives for discussion and approval,” he said.

Abdel-Karim said the proposed amendments focus on policies for dealing with citizens, regulating the security services’ performance and the relationship between the public and police in light of the need to respect the rights of citizens.

Last week, following a meeting with Interior Minister Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced that the cabinet will draft new legislation in an attempt to curb violations by the police. The move follows a number of widely reported incidents of police abuse of power.

A fortnight ago, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi instructed Abdel-Ghaffar to address “irresponsible acts by some members of the police force” and called on him to prepare legislation to curb malpractice within 15 days, according to presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef.

Youssef described recent violations as “irresponsible acts that affect the rest of the patriotic police apparatus. New legislation is necessary to control security forces and to ensure anyone who abuses his position is brought to justice.”

Al-Sisi demanded that Abdel-Ghaffar act to curb police misconduct one day after a low-ranking policeman shot dead a man in the Cairo district of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar. Policeman Mustafa Abdel-Hakim shot 24-year-old truck driver Mohamed Ismail in the head following a dispute over money. Abdel-Hakim, now facing murder charges, is said to have told investigators that he shot Ismail when the driver tried to charge more that the LE30 they had agreed upon for the journey.

Following Ismail’s death, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Cairo Security Directorate, shouting anti-police slogans.

Two days later, another low-ranking policeman was reported to have killed his neighbour during a dispute in the Giza district of Al-Khosoos. The policeman has been detained on suspicion of murder. Earlier last month, thousands of doctors staged a demonstration to protest police assaults on two doctors at Al-Matareya Hospital.

In line with the proposed legislation, Abdel-Ghaffar replaced Article 2 of Ministerial Decree No 367/2013, which now lengthens the duration of courses for security personnel scheduled to be appointed as low-ranking policemen to six weeks instead of the current one month.

“The aim of extending the training period for low-ranking policemen is to teach them how to treat citizens and to increase lectures on human rights, as well as how to exercise restraint,” said Major-General Refaat Abdel-Hamid, a former interior minister assistant and a security expert.

“The training period will also focus on training low-ranking policemen on how to use their weapons and emphasises that they use them to hunt down outlaws and not to threaten innocent citizens,” Abdel-Hamid added.

The daily Al-Watan on Sunday published what it said were highlights of the proposed amendments to the Police Law. Among them: graduated penalties against policemen begin with salary deductions, then suspensions from work and demotions, and, ultimately, firings. When a policeman is under consideration for promotion, he must undergo a medical check-up, including a drug test, the results of which could see him referred for discipline. If the policeman does not appear at a disciplinary board, he may be tried in absentia by the board.

The proposed amendments also include a prohibition on giving statements to the media and banning the use of “force and mistreatment of citizens”. The amendments also forbid police from joining partisan, political, religious or trade entities. Police are also banned from taking part in demonstrations and gatherings, organising sit-ins and blocking roads and railways. Violations may lead to dismissal. An absence from work of 15 consecutive days leads to resignation.

Major-General Magdi Bassiouni, a former interior minister assistant, believes the amendments include some important points. “The amendments will prevent the occurrence of violations by officers and low-ranking policemen when dealing with the public. It will also maintain the dignity of the citizen.”

 

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