[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] Wednesday sharply criticized [press release] Egypt's decision to extend [JURIST report] the country's emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder] for a further two year period, saying the move "shows contempt for the rule of law." Emergency laws have been in effect in Egypt since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat [memorial website], giving the government and security services the authority to censor the media, arrest and detain anyone deemed a threat to state security, ban demonstrations, and try civilians in military courts [JURIST report]. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif [official profile] has said that the emergency laws are necessary to combat terrorism, but HRW Wednesday urged the government to repeal the laws and instead enact new specially tailored terrorism laws [JURIST report] that are less repressive.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US was "disappointed" in the extension [DOS press briefing transcript] and urged Egypt to pass the new counter-terrorism laws. Reuters has more.