Pillay criticizes new anti-demonstration law in Egypt and …Mona Seif is arrested

November 27, 2013

(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Sarah Fretwell)


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had hardly pronounced herself on the new ‘demonstrations law’ in Egypt, issued on Sunday, and a number of high-profile demonstrators was arrested. Yesterday Mona Seif, the MEA Nominee of 2013, and a group of other human rights defenders were arrested when they were protesting in-front of the Shura Council against the suggested constitutional article that guarantees the continues referral of civilians to military trials. Observers believe that the authorities want to send a message in the context of the new law referred to above.The new law gives local security authorities the power to ban gatherings that would, among other things, constitute a threat to “security” or “disrupt citizens’ interests” without specifically detailing the conduct. “The fact that the law criminalises acts by demonstrators which may breach ‘security and public order,’ without clearly defining these terms, leaves the door open to a very restrictive and repressive interpretation,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Of particular concern are the provisions on the use of force by law enforcement officials and the excessive sanctions, including massive fines as well as prison sentences, that can be imposed on those found to be in breach of this law,” she stressed. The new law prescribes a list of escalating measures that law enforcement authorities can employ, after issuing warnings, to disperse unruly demonstrators. These include tear gas, water cannon, smoke grenades, warning shots, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition which is prohibited by international standards except in unavoidable instances in order to protect lives.

This is a country whose people have proclaimed loudly, clearly, courageously and repeatedly their desire to be able to demonstrate peacefully in accordance with their international human rights,” Ms. Pillay said. She added that Egyptian civil society organizations and human rights defenders have raised concerns about the law which have not been taken into account. “There is a real risk that the lives of peaceful protestors will be put at risk because of the violent behaviour of a few, or because the law may too easily be interpreted by local security authorities in a way that permits them to use excessive force in inappropriate circumstances”.

via United Nations News Centre – New anti-demonstration law in Egypt must be amended, urges UN rights chief.

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013


On 26 November Mona Seif, one of the founder of No Military trials for civilians group, Mohamed Abdelazia ( lawyer and member of the Egyptian front of defending the Egyptian protesters and Salma Said (member of the Mosreen group) were arrested together with others prominent human rights defenders and  some journalists who were covering the protest.  Other HRDs who have called for this protest, such as Zyad El-Eleimy (ex parliamentarian) and Mohamed Waked, seem to have surrendered themselves to prosecutor office as the main actors responsible for calling for this protest according to the law. The Constitutional Committee has  suspended its meeting and several prominent liberal members of the committee have announced they would resign from the committee in protest.

Al Ahram:     http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/87535/Egypt/Politics-/BREAKING-Another-protest-dispersed-in-Cairo-under-.aspx

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