Rights groups, political parties demand gov’t rescind anti-terror draft law

In an ongoing public outcry against the provisions of the new counter-terrorism draft law, 40 Egyptian rights organizations and political parties issued a joint statement on Wednesday in which they demanded that the current administration refrain from passing this draft into law, or at least to postpone deliberations regarding this draft until a new parliament is elected.

Denouncing the additional punitive measures and sweeping powers granted to the state in the draft law, this statement was also co-signed by 25 prominent political figures – including former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, along with a host of lawyers, journalists and unionists.

Amnesty International issued a similar statement on Wednesday, in which the London-based rights organization described the draft law as “draconian,” to be used as “the latest tool to muzzle peaceful activists.”

According to Amnesty’s statement, “The proposed counterterrorism law vastly expands the Egyptian authorities’ powers and threatens the most fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. If approved, it is set to become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent.”

Amnesty called on the Egyptian Cabinet to “drop the repressive draft law” or else to “fundamentally revise it to bring it in line with the Egyptian Constitution and international human rights law and standards.”

The organization recognized that “while the Egyptian authorities have an obligation to maintain security, they should not trample all over human rights in the process.”

The newly proposed counter-terrorism legislation was issued by the State Council Court on July 1 in light of the assassination of Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat on June 29.

According to the statement issued by Egyptian groups and political figures, the state already has sufficient laws and legal provisions to confront the threats of terrorism, including Law 97/1992 and Law 8/2015, along with numerous articles in the Penal Code that address terror-related crimes.

The new provisions of this draft counter-terrorism law have moved beyond the scope of terrorist acts to criminalizing those who question the state’s official accounts on terrorism – specifically in Articles 33 and 54.

The collective statement denounces the draft counter-terrorism law for violating the provisions of the Constitution.  

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