Cairo: Egypt must "scrap" the most
reviled laws of former president Hosni Mubarak`s era if it
wants to ensure free and fair parliamentary elections in
September, the secretary general of Amnesty International said
Speaking to reporters in Cairo, Salil Shetty expressed
concern over the use of military courts to try civilians and
the failure to lift a state of emergency after the ouster of
Mubarak`s regime in February.
These mechanisms alongside laws restricting freedom of
the press and assembly could "distort the elections" and do
not allow "a free and fair platform for the elections," Shetty
"We feel that all of these laws should be scrapped in
order to have a proper election which allows all voices to be
able to surface in an equal manner."
Amnesty International`s secretary general said
military courts had tried between 7,000-10,000 civilians since
Egypt`s Supreme Military Council took over power after Mubarak
quit on February 11.
Military trials for civilians "are not in line with
international fair trial standards," he said because they are
not independent, provide no transparency and the system of
defence is limited.
Emergency law, particularly provisions which for
decades provided security forces and police great leeway to
conduct arrests, "is simply not required," he said, adding
that the existing penal code was enough to guarantee public
During his visit to Egypt, Shetty met representatives
of the interior ministry and the foreign ministry as well as
rights activists and relatives of those who died in the 18-day
popular that toppled the Mubarak regime.
"It is essential... to investigate all cases of
torture, including by the armed forces," said Shetty, adding
that the investigation of recent cases of forced virginity
tests against female protesters was an "urgent priority."
Later today he was due to meet Deputy Prime Minister
Yehia al-Gamal and Arab League chief and presidential hopeful
Shetty said the toppling of Mubarak`s authoritarian
regime had paved the way for "significant changes" in Egypt
including the release of the majority of political prisoners.
"If you talk to people there is no question it`s much
freer now to move, there is more media freedom. There is a big
change and we have to acknowledge that."