Against Terrorism, Against the Restriction of Liberties

Press Release

15 July 2015

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

24. Egyptian Social Democratic Party

25. Socialist Popular Alliance Party

26. Popular Current Party (under establishment)

27. Constitution Party

28. Bread and Freedom Party

29. Freedom Egypt Party

30. El-Adl party

Public figures

31. Ahmad Fawzi - Secretary General of the Egyptian Democratic Party

32. Ahmed Ezzat – Human rights lawyer

33. Ahmed Kamel Buheiry - Popular Current

34. Amin Iskander - Popular Current

35. Amr Hamzawy - Professor of Political Science

36. Ayman Al-Sayad- Egyptian writer and journalist

37. Dr. Hoda ElSadda - Professor of Comparative Literature at Cairo University and member of the “Committee of 50”

38. Elhamy al-Merghany - Vice-President of Socialist Popular Alliance Party

39. Emad Mubark - Human rights activist

40. Fady Iskander - Popular Current

41. Farid Zahran - Vice-President, Egyptian Social Democratic Party

42. Farida al-Niqash - Egyptian writer and journalist

43. Hamdeen Sabahi- Founder of the Popular Current

44. Hossam Muanas - Popular Current

45. Hussein Abdel-Razek - Member of the “Committee of 50” tasked with writing of the 2014 Constitution

46. Kamal Abbas - Human rights activist

47. Khaled Al-Balshi - Head of the Freedoms’ Committee at the Press Syndicate

48. Khaled Ali - Founding member of the Bread and Freedom Party

49. Khaled Mansour - Egyptian writer and journalist

50. Maha Abu Nasr- Assistant Secretary-General, Egyptian Social Democratic Party

51. Medhat al-Zahid – Vice-President, Socialist Popular Alliance Party

52. Mohammed Abd al-Aziz - Member of the “Committee of 50”

53. Mohammed Arafat - Secretary of mass action, Egyptian Social Democratic Party

54. Negad El-Borai – Lawyer

55. Raed Salamah - Popular Current

56. Talat Fahmy - Secretary-General, Socialist Popular Alliance Party