CAIRO, August 11, 2011 (Reuters) -
CAIRO, August 11, 2011 (Reuters) –
Egypt has begun procedures to end the country’s three-decade old state of emergency, the government said on Thursday, a key demand of the protesters who toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.
The ruling army council has promised to scrap the emergency law, which gave Mubarak’s hated police force sweeping powers to stifle dissent against his rule.
“The government has decided to start the procedures needed to end the state of emergency, in coordination with the military council,” cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy said.
The cabinet said it would abide by a pledge to end the state of emergency before the start of the parliamentary elections, expected in November.
Egyptian rights campaigners have said the continued emergency powers were an anachronism in post-Mubarak Egypt that sapped the credibility of the interim government as a force for democratic change.
“The government confirms that since it has taken up its responsibilities, it has not taken any of the exceptional measures allowed under the state of emergency … and has abided by normal legal procedures,” the cabinet said in a statement.
The emergency law allowed the police to hold people for months without charge. Amnesty International in April urged Egypt to scrap the law in a an 80-page report called “Time for Justice: Egypt’s corrosive system of detention”.
The rights group listed brutal treatment of Egyptians behind bars that included beatings, electric shocks, suspension by the wrists and ankles for long periods, sleep deprivation and death threats.
Mubarak-era officials brushed off concerns about human rights abuses as unproven allegations or isolated incidents that did not prove any pattern of abuse.
Mubarak, his two sons and former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, now face trial on charges of graft and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising. They deny the accusations.
Picture credit: freedominourtime.blogspot.com