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Guaranteeing Human and Civil Rights under the New State of Emergency - Situation Report

On Palm Sunday, April 9th, 2017, two ISIS-affiliated terrorists simultaneously bombed Mary Girgis Church in Tanta and Mary Morcos Chuch in Alexandria. According to official statistics by the Egyptian Ministry of Health, the bombings claimed the lives of 45 citizens and injured 128 others.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, immediately, convened a meeting with the National Defense Council (NDC). On the evening of Sunday, April 9th, President El Sisi declared a state of emergency and the Ministerial Cabinet approved it. On the next morning April 10th, the Official Newspaper published Presidential Declaration No. 157/2017 to instate the official application of emergency state for three months starting at 1:00 pm on Monday, April 10th.

Liberal Democracy Institute of Egypt (LDI) issued a situation report on "Guaranteeing Human and Civil Rights under the New State of Emergency" to analyze the potential consequences of an emergency state on citizens’ civil rights. The report is investigating the legitimacy of instating an emergency in light of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 and other governing local and international legislation.

Then, the report analyzes the expected effect and scope of an emergency state on the daily lives of citizens. Finally, the report suggests a number of recommendations to policymakers on how to make use of the state of emergency’s three-month period (maximum six months in case of renewal) to accomplish successful measures, politically and socially, to effectively combat terrorism on the long term, without having to resort to more exceptional procedures in the future.

LDI suggests the following twelve priority measures to be adopted by state authorities during the short period of emergency state (three months or six in case of renewal) to enable long-term immunity against similar threats in the future:

1. Review Criminal Law and Terrorism law, and do all necessary amendments to guarantee prompt justice in cases of terrorism and violent extremism.

2. Reviewing all discriminatory laws that are being used by Islamic extremists against progressive thinkers; e.g. article 98f of the Penal Code which put several thought leaders in prison for speaking out against extremist doctrines in Islam.

3. Accelerating the process of issuing Anti-Discrimination Law, and consequently establishing Anti-Discrimination Authority, provided by the constitution.

4. Provide judicial authorities with all necessary tools, either legislative or physical (e.g. court spaces and more judges), to help them apply prompt justice in cases of terrorism and practicing violence.

5. Training policemen and Armed Forces officers on employing modern and innovative counterinsurgency tools, and discovering potential terrorists (e.g. recruiting youth by terrorist organizations on social media).

6. Accelerate the process of reaching a final verdict on prolonged cases related to Islamic extremism and use of violence (e.g. cases against Muslim Brotherhood leaders who incited violence against state institutions and Coptic Christians after the fall of their regime in 2013).

7. For respective state authorities to cooperate on disconnecting religious discourse from political discourse, refining school curricula to remove discriminatory and violence-tolerating texts, and publicly shame discriminatory acts against Christians or other non-Muslim citizens.

8. Dissolving the nine religious parties, including the Salafi Al-Nour Party, that are still operating in Egypt since they were established under the Muslim Brotherhood rule, despite their unconstitutional status. The High Committee on Political Parties Affairs filed a claim to dissolve those parties in mid-2015, but the court has not made a decision up till now.

9. Providing press and popular media outlets with educational materials, prepared by specialists, to spread social awareness and encourage citizens to denounce religious discrimination and extremist ideologies.

10. For security apparatus to cooperate with civil society organizations on educating citizens on how to protect their lives and provide medical aid to others, when under a violent attack.

11. Encouraging citizens to act positively when they suspect potential terrorists or suicide bombers, by showing them how to report the suspect to security forces as soon as they can.

12. Utilizing Egypt’s temporary membership at the United Nations Security Council in applying diplomatic pressure for disclosing and persecuting states sponsoring terrorism, which directly threaten Egypt’s national security.

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