Monday, December 10, 2012

Egypt army given arrest powers before referendum

President Morsi decree sets 'dangerous precedent' warns Amnesty amid fears civilians could be subjected to military trials

in Cairo,

Egypt army row – a protester writes a message using sand in the street near Tahrir Square, Cairo, that reads 'Down with the supreme leader's rule'. Photograph: AP

"There has been growing concern in Cairo about a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi that gives Egypt's armed forces powers of arrest and detainment during Saturday's constitutional referendum vote.
The decree, which lasts until the result of the referendum is announced, has reignited the issue of detainment of civilians in Egypt and their subjection to military trials. During the transitional period overseen by the military junta, some 12,000 civilians were tried and sentenced in military tribunals.

Amnesty International called the decree a "dangerous loophole" that could once again lead to detainment of civilians. "Considering the track record of the army while they were in charge, with more than 120 protesters killed and in excess of 12,000 civilians unfairly tried before military courts, this sets a dangerous precedent," said Amnesty's deputy Middle East and north Africa director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui......

Morsi also suspended a series of tax rises on Monday morning, hours after they had been issued. The increases were announced as part of an economic reform package being introduced before a 19 December deadline for International Monetary Fund approval of a $4.8bn loan. Then at 2am local time, a message was posted on Morsi's official Facebook page suspending – not cancelling – the tax hikes because he "felt the pulse of the streets and is aware of how much the Egyptian citizen is burdened in these tough economic times"."

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