Tuesday,18 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)
Tuesday,18 December, 2018
Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

MPs unite to support the police

MPs will discuss additions to anti-terror legislation, writes Gamal Essam El-Din


MPs unite to support the police
MPs unite to support the police

On Sunday parliament approved a presidential decree extending the nationwide state of emergency for three months. The approval came after a deadly terrorist operation in the Western Desert left dozens of policemen killed on Friday.

Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal promised MPs more laws combating terrorism will be presented to parliament for discussion soon as well as laws guaranteeing financial compensation to the families of police and soldiers killed by terrorists.

On Sunday Deputy Speaker Mahmoud El-Sherif told MPs the amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law would be speeded up.

“This law, when combined with the referral of suspects to military courts, will help a lot in the battle against terrorism,” saidAl-Sherif.

Legislation compensating the families of security personnel killed in the fight against terrorism is already being finalised.

“The law will establish a fund for the families of the victims. We are also looking at ways to increase the pensions of retired policemen,” said Al-Sherif.

“It is unacceptable retired police officers receive just LE1,200 a month. We hope the amount can be increased to at least LE6,000,” says MP Mustafa Bakri.

Amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law will not only speed up the trials of suspected terrorists but address issues of concern to human rights organisations, including misuse of custodial sentences, travel bans and trials in absentia, said Bahaaeddin Abu Shokka, head of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
Kamal Amer, head of the Defence and National Security Committee, says moves are being pursued “to strip anyone convicted of terrorist charges of Egyptian nationality and to exercise more control over social networking sites”.

While MPs were keen to give a moral boost to policemen and to the security apparatus in general some were critical of the Ministry of Interior’s performance.

The Interior Ministry should have better prepared the raid on a terrorist hideout in the Western Desert on 20 October, says Suleiman Wahdan, deputy speaker and a member of the Wafd Party.

“This raid should have been conducted in coordination with the Air Force which could have provided cover for police officers. The absence of air cover is largely to blame for the loss of so many lives.”

MP Gamal Al-Sherif has demanded the Interior Minister come to parliament to answer questions about last week’s disastrous operation.

“This tragic incident was not the first and will not be the last. Terrorists are still receiving huge amounts of money, ammunition and sophisticated weapons,” claimed MP Kamal Amer.

The Interior Minister needs to coordinate with terrorism experts in analysing last week’s attack and avoid such mistakes in the future, said Amer.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was in parliament on Sunday to deliver a brief statement on the state of emergency and the Western Desert incident.

“I stand before you in the wake of painful recent incidents in which policemen sacrificed their lives while confronting terrorist elements,” said Ismail.

“This decree is a step many democratic countries have adopted to maintain stability in the face of terrorist attacks.”

Ismail vowed his government would never invoke exceptional measures that negatively affect individual freedoms and rights.

Salah Fawzi, a professor of constitutional law, told reporters last week that “some disputed the legality of the decree when it was issued citing Article 154 of the 2014 constitution which limits the period of any state of emergency to three months, renewable for three more months.
“But the constitution does not ban a re-declaration of the state of emergency in case of necessity,” Fawzi argued.

 “The imposition of the state of emergency for six months last April was very successful in stemming terrorist attacks in Egyptian towns and cities,” says Amer.
The state of emergency was declared following attacks on churches in Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April which left dozens killed and injured.

“The goal of terrorist operations like the one we saw in the Western Desert is not just to kill police and soldiers but to undermine the morale of Egyptians,” Abdel-Aal told MPs.

Instead of imposing emergency laws many democratic countries issue what they call anti-terror laws which are in reality no different to the emergency law, said Abdel-Aal.

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