Saturday, March 17, 2007

Egyptian "Patriot" Constitution?

Egypt is surely to be applauded for appointing women as judges (even though only prosecutors, and no defense attorneys, were appointed). However, the FIDH reports that Egypt is laying the groundwork for lifting its 25-year-long state of emergency by amending its constitution to include counter-terrorism measures that would counter not only terrorism, but also constitutional rights guaranteed by Articles 41 (on arrest and due process), 44 (on house searches) and 45 (on the privacy of correspondence and communications). In particular, the proposed amendment would allow the president “to refer any ‘terrorist crime’ to any of the judicial authorities stated in the constitution or the law” and “is likely to grant security forces unlimited authority to detain persons, raid residences, and monitor postal and telephone communications without court permission…It will also grant the President the power to refer anyone suspected of terrorism to jurisdictions of exception”. Sound familiar?

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