Egypt court declares interior minister's authority to prevent protests unconstitutional

Saturday 03-12-2016 12:51 PM

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) - Reuters

CAIRO, Dec 3 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court deemed on Saturday the first paragraph of Article 10 of the controversial protest law, related to the interior minister's authority to prevent demonstrations, unconstitutional.

The Article gave the interior minister or a relevant security director the right to prevent, postpone or change the location of a demonstration, had they received "serious information" that it poses a threat to public peace.

The court however rejected rights lawyers' appeals against Articles 7, 8 and 19 of the law.

Article 8 of the law requires protesters to notify the police of the date, the location and the reason for a demonstration, days in advance, according to the text published by the official gazette at the time the law was issued in 2013. 

Articles 7 and 19, on the other hand, consider the participation in a demonstration that violates security or disrupts interests of the citizens a crime, punishable by at least two years in prison and a fine of at least EGP50,000.

Since its issuance in November 2013, the law has been widely criticised by domestic and international human rights organisations which say it violates international standards that allow for peaceful protests.

Many Egyptians, mostly youth, have been detained and convicted of violating the law and protesting without obtaining prior approval from the interior ministry.

Rights lawyer Tarek al-Awady, among the lawyers who challenged the legislation, said on his Facebook account that the court's verdict will not benefit those who are imprisoned under the provisions of the law.

Last October, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised amendments to be made to the protest law. He said that  the government will coordinate with relevant state authorities to study the suggestions and proposals to amend the law.

The proposed amendments "will be included in the set of proposed legislation planned to be presented to parliament during the current session," he added then.

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