Rights groups call for bill to fight terrorism

In light of its grave concern over the possibility of the increase of “terrorist acts” over the coming days, as well as ongoing violence in Sinai and other governorates, 31 rights groups have called for a presidential decree to fight terrorism.

In a statement released Sunday, the groups said that current legislation does not include measures to fight terrorism.

The decree must find a balance between protecting human rights and fighting terrorism, the statement read. It must fix the loopholes of Law 97 issued by ousted president Hosni Mubarak to deal with terrorism and terrorism-related offences, which the statement described as the “worst laws violating general freedoms and human rights.”

The decree must include standards for fair trials, which involve public trials and verdicts, the independence of the court and the right to appeal among other conditions.

It must also be based on the 2004 Berlin Declaration, the groups asserted, which addresses upholding human rights and the rule of law in the process of combating terrorism.

The rights groups call on the government to abide by international mechanisms for human rights and fighting terrorism. They said that the decree must also include measures to prevent and combat terrorist acts as per international charters and conventions and international criminal cooperation provisions.

In their statement, the rights groups say that the decree must address several issues, including procedural provisions that are not part of the criminal code.

Signatories to the statement include the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Egyptian Association for Community Participation and Enhancement and the Solidarity (Tadamon) Foundation for Human Rights. 

Other rights groups have been vocal in criticizing security forces’ crackdown on protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, especially the forced dispersal of sit-ins calling for Morsi’s reinstatement last month.

In a statement following the sit-in dispersal, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, among others, expressed fear that “increased terrorism and the threat of civil war may lead the authorities to take further exceptional measures to protect citizens’ lives.” The rights groups called on the state to adopt a serious plan to contain the violence and restore the political process hijacked by security solutions.

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