Egypt’s Infamous Emergency Law Expires
Egypt’s infamous emergency law, which had given President Hosni Mubarak and his police forces vast authority to crack down on dissent, expired Thursday, and officials said they were disinclined to extend it.
Suspension of the law, which had been in effect for more than 30 years, was among the key demands of revolutionaries who toppled Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011. Human rights activists hailed its expiration as a historic milestone and among the most important dividends of last year’s popular revolt.
“It’s a law that symbolized the extraordinary powers given to the police, which created an environment in which forced disappearances and torture happened regularly,” said Heba Morayef, a Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.
The expiration of the law means in theory that detainees held under its provisions should have been released by the end of the day on Thursday, Morayef said. But the researcher said her group had confirmed that at least 188 people who were picked up under the emergency law remained in custody.
Egypt’s military council, which assumed power after Mubarak was forced to step down, vowed Thursday to continue maintaining security, saying in a statement issued to the state news agency that it “affirms to the great people of Egypt that it continues bearing this responsibility.”