Egypt: Scrap Proposed Law to Criminalize Strikes and Protests

Press Release
March 31, 2011

Egypt: Scrap Proposed Law to Criminalize Strikes and Protests

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 31, 201

Scrap Proposed Law to Criminalize Strikes and Protests, Amnesty International Tells Egypt Law Would be an “Alarming” Step Backwards and an Insult to Reformers

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(New York) -- The Egyptian authorities should scrap a draft law aimed at criminalizing strikes and protests, Amnesty International said today, ahead of demonstrations against the law set for Friday. The organization said the proposed law is an “alarming” step backwards for Egypt.

“Any move to curb freedom of assembly and the right to strike in Egypt would be an alarming step backwards and an insult to those who risked - and lost - their lives calling for change over the past two months," said Amnesty International.

"It is vital in this transitional period that the Egyptian authorities guarantee basic human rights such as the right to carry out peaceful protests and strikes."

Activists are set to gather in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand that Egypt's interim military government scrap the proposed ban and push through human rights reforms.

The law offered by the Egyptian cabinet last week would make it illegal to participate in protests and strikes that "hinder the work of public institutions or authorities during a state of emergency." Violators would face jail or hefty fines.

"Linking this repressive law to the state of emergency only serves to highlight the urgent need for the state of emergency to be lifted immediately," said Amnesty International.

"Instead of undoing the progress made towards reforming the shortcomings of Egypt's Constitution, the authorities must heed calls to investigate army abuses, release political prisoners and end the use of military trials to try protesters."

Peaceful protesters have been arrested in recent weeks, with many reportedly tortured and tried before military courts.

Following the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak last month, workers and others have continued to stage demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins to protest against the rising cost of living and to demand better wages and working conditions.

The Egyptian cabinet has said banning strikes and protests is necessary for the protection of Egypt’s security and economy.

“By restricting workers’ rights to strike and protest, the Egyptian authorities are not only breaching their obligations to uphold the right to freedom of assembly and the right to strike, they are breaking their promises to improve the living conditions of Egyptians,” said Amnesty International.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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