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Protest bill restricts freedoms

Mariam Adly

01 Jan 2013 9:04 pm

The Egyptian People’s Stream (EPS) has criticised the bill proposed last Sunday by the legislative and human rights committees of the Shura Council—the upper house of Egypt’s parliament—to govern protests and sit-ins

The Egyptian People’s Stream (EPS) has criticised the bill proposed last Sunday by the legislative and human rights committees of the Shura Council—the upper house of Egypt’s parliament—to govern protests and sit-ins. 
The bill has been described as restrictive. It limits protest between 7 am and 7 pm, stipulates that the organiser of the protest should inform security forces of the location and timing of the scheduled protest before holding it, and gives security forces the right to attend, prevent, or end protests, if they are perceived as “threatening national security and state order.” The law would ban protests disrupting State institutions and interests of citizens. Slogans and speeches instigating sectarianism would also be banned.
A penalty of one-year imprisonment and fine ranging between EGP30,000 and EGP100,000 is stipulated for violation of the law.
Hafez Abu-Saeda, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, said the proposed law would not be offered for public dialogue.
“It is a proposal limiting freedom of expression and peaceful protests,” Abu-Saeda said. “It is irrational to limit the timing of the protest, as it is up to the protester to decide when to protest as long as he is peaceful. The penalty proposed is disproportionate with the violation.”
The EPS expressed surprise that the current ruling regime came to power through public protest, but is now attempting to restrict the freedom to protest. “The bill represents a setback to the 2011 revolution,” a statement issued by the EPS said. It was also amazing, the statement said, that such a bill would be the first on the agenda of the Shura Council, in preference to any bills that may tackle the urgent economic and social needs of Egyptians.
The EPS insisted that: “It would have been infinitely better for the ruling regime to look into the reasons behind the protest than to attempt to suppress it.” 
Watani International
31 December 2012


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