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Freedom House welcomes end of Emergency Law

(Freedom House/IFEX) - 1 June 2012 - Freedom House welcomes the lapse of Egypt's Emergency Law on May 31, and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' refusal to request its renewal by the People's Assembly, the lower house of parliament. We hope this constitutes a step forward in the consolidation of Egypt's transition to democracy and the rule of law.

Since the February 2011 revolution that overthrew the Mubarak regime, the rule of law in Egypt has remained weak. More than 12,000 civilians have been illegally remitted to military courts on political charges such as “insulting the military.” Security officers and personnel responsible for killing peaceful political protesters and committing other human rights abuses, such as the notorious “virginity tests” administered to female protesters, have largely gone unpunished. Moreover, the government continues to prosecute employees of international NGOs for allegedly operating illegally while working with Egyptian partners to advance the country's democratic transition.

“While Egypt moves forward to a new era without emergency regulations, it should recognize and resolve the mistakes of the past,” said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. “All political prisoners who have been prosecuted under the emergency law or referred under it to military courts should be pardoned or retried in front of ordinary courts.”

While the lapse of the Emergency Law is a step in the right direction, Freedom House urges all political forces in Egypt to take steps to ensure that no such measures can be imposed again and to implement laws that will hold authorities accountable for any future abuses of human rights in Egypt.

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