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Egypt reinstates, expands emergency laws

Egyptian protesters' recent attack on the Israeli Embassy has provoked the Egyptian government to reinstate emergency laws with expanded control over political demonstrations and media reporting. Emergency laws [Reuters report] will also apply to blocking roads, publishing false information and possessing weapons. Special security courts [Al Masry Al Youm report], used by former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] as a tool for repressing opposition, will be reintroduced. Though the interim government recently professed its intent to end the 30-year state of emergency [JURIST report], specifically before the November parliamentary election, activists now fear that that the subsequent human rights abuses will never end. Egypt's martial law was allegedly instated for the purpose of controlling organized crime and thugs, but the government has since been accused of torture and intimidating journalists.

Protests in Egypt have continued as many believe the interim government is not progressing toward change quickly enough. In April, an Egyptian military court convicted blogger Maikel Nabil [JURIST report] and sentenced him to three years in prison for criticizing the army and raising questions over reform in the wake of revolution. He posted an article on his blog [text, in Arabic] on March 7 saying the army had beaten, tortured and killed protesters, including some who were cooperating with security forces. He was then sentenced without a formal hearing and without his lawyers present. In March, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces unveiled an interim constitution that allows the council to retain control over the country until an elected government is installed. The document vests the military council with presidential powers [Al-Ahram report], including the abilities to introduce legislation, veto existing laws and act as Egypt's representative to the international community.

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