Egyptian court orders end of state of emergency

Egyptian court orders end of state of emergency
Tue Nov 12, 2013 21:18:53

An Egyptian court has ordered an end to a three-month state of emergency, two days ahead of the planned date.

The cabinet said in a statement it would respect the ruling but would wait for official notification from the court before implementing it.

The state of emergency, accompanied by a night time curfew, had been scheduled to expire on Thursday.

"The government is committed to implement judicial rulings...the government is waiting for the text of the ruling," it said in a statement.

Interim president Adly Mansour declared the state of emergency on August 14, as violence gripped Egypt after police dispersed two large protest camps in Cairo set up by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Hundreds of people, mainly Morsi supporters, were killed in the crackdown.

According to an interim constitution decreed by Mansour, extending the state of emergency any longer would have required a referendum.

The state of emergency granted broad powers of arrest to soldiers deployed on the streets, especially during curfew hours.

"In practice, the state of emergency was only being used for the curfew and arrest powers for the military," said Heba Morayef, head of Human Rights Watch in Egypt.

"It was the symbolism. The interior ministry seems to have this belief that repressive laws are a deterrent."

Egypt has been under almost continuous emergency law since 1967, with breaks in 1981 and after president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in early 2011.

The scope of the emergency law was gradually whittled down under Mubarak and by courts following the strongman's ouster.

More than 2,000 supporters of Muslim Brotherhood, including most of its top leadership, have been arrested since the overthrow of the president, who has also been jailed.

But the majority of those arrested since Morsi's overthrow were not rounded up according to the emergency law's provisions, Morayef said.

The state of emergency had meanwhile allowed authorities to place Mubarak under house arrest in a hospital after the maximum period of detention expired in September.

On trial for alleged involvement in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising, Mubarak may be forced to go back to jail with the end of the state of emergency, now that the government has amended the law to allow for a longer detention period during trial.

The interim president is meanwhile on the verge of decreeing an amended law regulating protests that has sparked a backlash, even from other members of government and its supporters.


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