Egypt’s ruling military leader, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, lifted the controversial state of emergency law Wednesday, on the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.
“I have taken a decision to end the state of emergency starting on the morning of January 25, 2012,” Tantawi said in a televised address on the eve of the anniversary.
But Tantawi added that it would still apply in dealing with cases of “thuggery.” He did not elaborate on what that meant.
Under the Emergency Law people can be detained without trial. The law was used for decades by former President Hosni Mubarak to circumvent the civilian justice system. For years, Mubarak’s regime was heavily criticized by international human rights groups for the law.
But since Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took over after Mubarak was overthrown in last year’s popular anti-regime uprising, the Military Council has been criticized for implementing Mubarak-era laws.
In the three decades of the former President’s autocratic rule, three were only 2,000 cases of civilians being tried by military courts. But in just ten months of SCAF taking control of the country, there have been six times that many with civilians being brought before military courts under the country’s reinstated emergency law.
The Army had reinstated the law it had repealed only two months previously, following the storming of the building housing the Israeli Embassy in Cairo in September.
The law prohibited political gatherings and protests, while also imposing restrictions on the freedom of the press.
Among other laws - the penal code, associations law and the assembly law - the emergency law “limits public freedoms necessary for a democratic transition and impedes accountability for abuses by the police and the military,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a report this week.
But Tantawi’s use of the term “thuggery” is controversial, with activists repeatedly accusing the military of using the term to stifle political dissent.
“Since Mubarak’s ouster the SCAF has been the sole authority with the power to amend or approve amendments to existing laws, and issue or approve new ones,” HRW added.
Source: Al Arabiya