President Mohamed Morsy is expected to ratify a law giving the military many of the police’s powers, according to state-run media outlet Al Ahram.
According to Al Ahram, the cabinet approved the draft law at its last meeting and it is now awaiting Morsy’s approval. The law contains four articles that give the military similar powers to the police, including the power to arrest civilians.
Under Morsy’s constitutional declaration none of his decision are subject to judicial review.
The law is set to grant the military these powers throughout the period from the referendum on the proposed constitution up to the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to take place sixty days after the approval of the constitution.
According to Al Ahram, the law calls on the armed forces to coordinate with the police to “maintain security and protect vital installations in the country.” The law also grants military officers and non-commissioned officers “all the powers of judicial arrest.”
Heba Morayef, the Egypt director for Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Morsy needs the military because “recently we have seen several occasions when the police have not responded to the presidents’ demands.”
Morayef expressed concern about the proposed law saying, “there are two reasons why this is so problematic. Firstly, civilians arrested by military officers could be subject to military trial, and secondly there is no civilian oversight on the military.” She added, “it is much more dangerous, it is an invitation for abuse.”
In June the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a decree stating, “military police and military intelligence officers… shall have judicial arresting authority for crimes committed by non-military personnel.” HRW said the decree “creat[ed] conditions ripe for further serious human rights abuses.”
Referring to SCAF’s decree, Morayef said, “when SCAF issued their decree it was blocked by an administrative court. If he approves this law Morsy will be flying in the face of a court order that has already been issued.”