Several political parties, institutions, rights organisations and public figures signed a joint statement Wednesday urging the government to delay the issuance of the proposed anti-terrorism law, pending a “broad and genuine social dialogue” regarding the law and its objectives.
The parties also urged that the law should not be passed until an elected parliament comes into being, which will then be able to issue the law, after discussing its articles extensively and ensuring it does not violate the 2014 constitution.
Human rights organisations, such as Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) signed the statement. Political parties that signed the statement include the Bread and Freedom Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Public figures also signed the statement, including Hamdeen Sabbahi, Khaled Al-Balshy from the Press Syndicate, Khaled Ali, Lawyer Negad Al-Borai and several human rights activists.
The signatories declared their objection to current practices of confronting terrorism, as well as their objection to restrictions imposed on liberties. The “cowardly terrorist attacks” are considered an assault on human rights, most basically the right to life. However, terrorism cannot be confronted with law or security approaches alone, the statement said.
“It must be confronted ideologically and with a legal system that protects public liberties, establishes justice, involves society as a partner, and thus prevents more people from joining extremist organizations.”
The signatories believe that based on Article 237 of the constitution, the draft anti-terrorism law is considered a “complementary law”, meaning that its adoption requires the approval of a two-thirds majority of the parliament. Thus, they believe that this type of law requires extensive debate and review, something that will not be possible if President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi decides to issue the law in the absence of a parliament.
Fearing the repercussions of the infringements on rights and civil liberties associated with the implementation of such a law, the signatories call for an open, inclusive dialogue concerning the confrontation of terrorism.
The draft of the controversial law has been met with opposition and reservations from various entities, including the Press Syndicate, the Supreme Judicial Council and the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR).
The law came under scrutiny from journalists as it contains an article that seeks to put journalists behind bars for publishing “information contradicting official data”.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi defended laws passed recently in a speech on Tuesday, saying that these laws aim to achieve the will of the Egyptians, grant immunity to the state, preserve its institutions and prevent destabilising schemes.