The Egyptian Constitution entails the right of the president to declare a state of emergency, and exercise his executive power against the danger and threats to national security. In context of international consensus, when threats of dangers emerge in the country, declaration of a state of emergency can only find sufficient ground when there is an on-going war, the threat of war, or in times of natural calamities and disasters (Abu Seada, Hafez, 2002b).
The Egyptian society has not been relived of the state of emergency and for many years, the Egyptian government has given the excuse of terrorism as a pretext for several renewal instances of the state of emergency. However, Egypt is not under the threat of terrorism acts since its last incidence in 1997. Egyptian leaders have long advocated that the need of the state of emergency is essential after the September 11 attacks in the United States. The Egyptian government believes that terrorism activities can penetrate Egypt and may ultimately caused major dilemmas. What is the Egyptian Emergency Law?
The emergency law being imposed in Egypt grants several provisions as manifested in its laws. Executive power of the leaders can impose restrictions in the freedom of assembly; the right to move of residence; the power to arrest and detain possible suspects of those deemed as threats to national security; and the total disregard of the provisions mandated in the Criminal Procedure Code stated in article 3 of the emergency law (Diaz, 2001). As a consequence, these powers implemented and imposed resulted to gross violation of human rights instilled in the Egyptian Constitution.
In the Egyptian Constitution, personal freedom was stated in article 41, the inviolability of personal homes is mentioned in article 44, and the freedom of movement and residence stated in article 54. Even the Convent on Civil Rights provisions on its articles were disregarded by the emergency law (Anonymous, 2006). The emergency law also accounts for the abolishment of the exceptional courts which performs specific duties to review related cases with violations and rulings imposed by the Egyptian leaders and government.
Some of the violations of the state emergency law include the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, and the immunity of judges as stipulated in both the Egyptian Constitution and the ICCPR (Diaz, 2001). Even the freedom of the press and expression is bounded by the emergency law which dictates the military ruler and/or deputy to monitor all publications in the country. Monitoring of publications expressing opinion and even plain information includes confiscation and termination of circulations of these publications (Diaz, 2001).
The right to privacy to confidentiality and even correspondence among individuals violated the freedom of opinion, speech, expression, and research as stipulated both in the Constitution and in the ICCPR (Slackman, 2006). The President of the Republic also has absolute power in referring to the State Security Courts of Emergency people accused of crimes and punishable under the common rule of law. With its influence in the judiciary system of the government, the emergency law entitles the leader to hear or move a case either to the Emergency State Security Court or the Military Court (Diaz, 2001).
Prevailing Violations of the Emergency Law On November 12, 2001, the influence of presidential decree to refer 22 defendants who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood Group was adopted in the military courts. On November 7, 2001, all suspected individuals were investigated by the State Security Court and accused of being affiliated with the group. The Muslim Brotherhood Group was referred to as an illegal group because the Egyptian government realized their aim to hamper the implementation of the emergency law and its conflict with the Constitution (Diaz, 2001).
The accused were deprived of time and facilities to prepare for their defense. The Long Struggle towards Democracy If the constitution in Egypt is ineffective with the existing emergency law, all forms of human rights is violated in different degrees. Recent advocates of independent judiciary and abolitions of the emergency law are far from achieving their ultimate goal. The judiciary alone is corrupt and dependent upon the emergency law and its leader. Many people, up to this day, are detained in custody of the government without charge or evidence.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the greatest opposition body f the National Democratic Party. The MB argues that there is no reasonable justification for the government to impose the emergency law. However, the mere fact of their opposition of the emergency law has cost their members’ lives. The MB believes that continuous revival and application of the emergency law is a way for the NDP to secure, suppress, and impose their powers to the Egyptian society (Diaz, 2001). No matter how they argued that the emergency law is for the people’s welfare, thus the need to extend its tenure in Egypt territory.
The struggle to abolish the emergency law is governed by both historical and developmental influences. Much to the international community’s dismay, the emergency law has regarded upholding of human rights to promote vested interest to stay in power. The presence of nepotism and cronyism has led to prominent families having immunity from the law. The civil society knows this situation, and as the anger continuously progress and intensify, their goal to abolish completely the emergency law and its remnants remains to be a struggle.
The Egyptian Observer (2006). Dictatorial Legislation: History And Future of Egypt’s Emergency Law. Retrieved April 15, 2008, from http://egyptianobserver. blogspot. com/2006/05/dictatorial-legislation-history-and. html Abu Seada, Hafez (2002a). The situation of human rights in Egypt Annual report 2003. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. Retrieved April 15, 2008, from http://www. eohr. org/annual/2003/report2003. shtml#3