Egypt's state-of-emergency will come to an end on Thursday when a two-year extension on a law authorizing broad government powers of arrest and detention expires. Individuals who have already been sentenced or detained under the less-restrictive requirements of the emergency law will not be released, and trials in Egypt's Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) are permitted to continue. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on the Egyptian parliament [press release] to pass laws ameliorating the effects of the state-of-emergency:
The People's Assembly should not just let the law lapse, but should also pass legislation ending all exceptional measures that would not automatically expire with the law. It should require the interior minister to release all Emergency Law detainees or refer them to prosecutors to be charged, and ask the public prosecutor to transfer all Emergency State Security Court trials to regular civilian courts.Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] has acknowledged the lapse [Reuters report] of the law and promised to maintain peace and order in the country. The state-of-emergency was last extended in 2010 by former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive], nine months before he was removed from power.
SCAF announced in January that Eygpt's state of emergency would be partially lifted [JURIST report] later that week. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of SCAF, did indicate that some of the powers from the state-of-emergency would remain in effect against certain crimes. Earlier that month, a report from HRW called on [JURIST report] Egypt's newly elected parliament to pursue an agenda to reform nine areas of Egyptian law that impede freedom and restrict rights. Among the suggestions was a call to lift the state-of-emergency. Egyptian prosecutors began their case [JURIST report] against Mubarak in January, who is facing charges of complicity by ordering the killings of at least 840 protesters [JURIST report] during the revolution. Some commentators have recommended [JURIST op-ed] that the SCAF separate its economic and political power to allow for greater prosperity in Egypt.