Mar Girgis Church in Tanta - YOUM7/Hussein Tallal
CAIRO – 10 April 2017: The Egyptian cabinet approved Monday the implementation of a state of emergency for three months, starting 1 p.m.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi declared the state of emergency Sunday, following two deadly attacks that targeted churches in Tanta and Alexandria, leaving 45 people killed and over 110 injured.
According to the cabinet statement, the armed forces and the police shall take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism, ensure security across the country, protect private and public properties and save citizens’ lives.
State of Emergency in Egyptian Constitution
Article 154 of the Egyptian Constitution stipulates that the President of the Republic may declare the state of emergency as regulated by law, after consultation with the Cabinet. The declaration must then be presented to the House of Representatives within the following seven days to decide thereon as it deems fit and it must be approved by a majority of the members.
“The state of emergency shall be declared for a specified period not exceeding three months, which may only be extended for another similar period after obtaining the approval of two-thirds of the House members.”
What does the State of Emergency entail?
The state of emergency law is based on Act No. 162 of 1958. The law specifies the conditions on which the president of the state can take this decision and the measures that it authorizes.
According to the law, the president may declare a state of emergency whenever “the security or public order in the territory of the Republic or a part of it are at risk, whether due to a war or a threat of one, instabilities in the country, a public disaster or an epidemic.”
The declaration and termination of the state of emergency are determined by the president himself and he is supposed to specify, the situation that lead up to this decision, the area covered and the date of entry into force.
As for the measurements that could follow once the state of emergency is declared, article three of the law specifies that “the president may take through a written or oral order the following measures” that shall be implemented by the armed forces and the police:
Imposing restrictions on people’s freedom to “meet, move, reside, wander in certain places or times,” arresting suspects or those deemed dangerous to the security or public order, licensing the inspection of people and places without being bound by the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code
Issuing an order to monitor correspondence (of any kind) and to survey newspapers, newsletters publications, drawings and all means of expression and advertising prior to publication, as well as seizing and confiscating the publications and closing up the printing houses.
Scheduling specific times for public shops to open and close, and well as commanding to close all or some of these shops.
Ordering the seizure of personal property or real estate and sequestration of companies or institutions.
Directing the surrender or licensed arms, munitions and explosive materials.
Evacuating some places or isolating them, organizing determining transportation among different regions.
The law further stipulates that the violation of these orders is punishable by the penalties provided within the orders themselves. “Such penalties, however, are not to exceed fifteen years of hard labor or a fine of four thousand pounds,” the law states. In case the order does not specify the penalties, a violation may be punished by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine not to exceed fifty pounds or both penalties.
The violations are tried before “Special Security Courts,” established by article seven of the same law, and whose judgments courts are not subject to appeal. The President has the right to alter the composition of such courts, to include a military panel (either fully or partly). He has to approve all the sentences and he has the right to annul or amend the verdict, either before or after his initial approval. “The President has broad powers to reduce the sentence, replace the sentence by a lesser one, cancel or suspend the sentence or order a retrial before another chamber.” (Article 14)
President of the Republic may delegate the powers provided in this law in whole or in part.
State of Emergency in Egyptian history
State of Emergency worldwide
Egypt is not the only country that chose state of emergency as its weapon against terrorism or instabilities, although the provisions of each country are different.
has been extending state of emergency for over a year, ever since it was hit by a terrorist attack in November 2015, leaving 130 people killed. French President Francois Hollande had declared state of emergency in the aftermath of the attacks; and the France’s parliament has lately voted to extend it until 15 July 2017.
declared state of emergency in July 2016, after a coup attempt that lead to over 240 fatalities and thousands of emergencies. The state of emergency was extended in January 2017 for three more months.
has also extended state of emergency for over 16 months, since a terrorist attack killed dozens by the end of 2015.