Minister of Justice Adel Abdel Hameed’s decision to deputise a number of administrative university security personnel stirred controversy, although it was called for by some public university chairmen.
Abdel Hameed issued the decision under the pretext of a “lack of security” in university campuses. The decision gives the deputised security personnel the right to file reports against students who commit crimes, reported state-run Al-Ahram. Students will then be referred to public prosecution for investigation.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) stated that the decision does not provide an efficient solution to the lack of security. In a statement released on Tuesday, AFTE described the decision as an “exceptional” procedure and called for its cancellation.
AFTE stated the decision invites a fear of using security solutions within university campuses. The association said that such solutions would not be practical due to the high degree of polarisation among university students, adding that the security and university administrations contribute to this polarisation, as they take the side of one group of students against the other.
The association also stated that the decision jeopardises the independence of universities. It stated that article 317 of the law governing universities states that university security is under the auspices of the universities’ chairmen. The justice minister’s decision to deputise university security nevertheless makes the latter under the auspices of the prosecutor general.
The solution to tackling the lack of security on university campuses, AFTE said, lies in increasing the number of security personnel and properly training them. It added that university securities’ role should be restricted to securing students against all that directly threatens them without intervening in student activities.
The Student Union of Ain Shams University issued a statement on Tuesday where it also expressed its rejection of the decision to deputise university security. The union implied that the decision aims to silence the students under the pretext of maintaining security.
In its statement, the union suggested increasing the number of university security and hiring a new security company to handle Ain Shams University’s security.
Abdel Hakeem Khaleel, chairman of the public Tanta University in the Gharbeya governorate, stated that the decision to deputise university security is in the students’ best interests. Khaleel gave statements to the press on Tuesday, expressing his view that the decision aims to prevent the sabotaging of institutions and assaulting of university faculty and students. He added that only five security personnel will be deputised in the University of Tanta.
Khaleel denied any intention to bring back Homeland Security (formerly known as State Security) personnel to secure universities.
Until 2009, the police was responsible for providing Homeland Security personnel to secure universities. In 2009, the administrative court banned this decision, establishing “administrative” university security.
Abdel Hameed has the jurisdiction to deputise citizens, according to the Criminal Procedures Law.
Abdel Hameed also issued a separate decision on Sunday, deputising engineers at the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation regarding crimes that violate the laws involving the preservation of the Nile Water.