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Parties call for reviewing controversial legislations

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Egypt’s international position and reputation should be a priority, says Free Egyptians Party

Al-Jazeera news channel's Australian journalist Peter Greste (R) and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy (L) listen to the verdict inside the defendants cage during his trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood on June 23, 2014 at the police institute near Cairo's Tora prison. The Egyptian court sentenced the three Al-Jazeera journalists to jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years after accusing them of aiding the blacklisted Brotherhood.  Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the authorities have been incensed by the Qatari network's coverage of their deadly crackdown on his supporters.  (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Al-Jazeera news channel’s Australian journalist Peter Greste (R) and Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy (L) listen to the verdict inside the defendants cage during his trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood on June 23, 2014 at the police institute near Cairo’s Tora prison. 
(AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

The Free Egyptians Party (FEP) expressed on Wednesday its concern regarding domestic and international reactions toward Egypt’s way of handling issues of freedom of expression.

The party called for reviewing recently issued “controversial” legislations.

“It is time for a comprehensive legislative revolution which puts an end to the state of chaos and the suspicion of unconstitutionality of some laws,” the party’s statement read.

The FEP prioritised reviewing the highly controversial Protest Law. The law was issued by former President Adly Mansour last November to regulate public assembly, and has received wide criticism ever since for failing to abide by international standards regarding the right to protest.

The party called on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to look into the Protest Law and amend it in a manner which abides by the constitution. It noted that the law was issued in the absence of parliament.

The FEP’s calls reiterated a joint statement released by a group of six political movements on Tuesday. The movements, which included former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy’s Al-Tayar Al-Shaaby, Al-Dostour Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), called for amending the Protest Law, releasing all detainees held in light of the law and pardoning those sentenced in accordance with it.

Several protesters and political activists have been sentenced to prison under the Protest Law during the past six months. On 12 June, political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for violating the Law. Abdel Fattah and two other defendants were arrested shortly afterwards.

Sanaa Seif, Abdel Fattah’s sister, was arrested alongside dozens of other protesters on Saturday for taking part in an anti-Protest Law march. On Wednesday, 23 detainees arrested from the march were referred to a Misdemeanour Court. They are accused of violating the Protest Law among other charges.

The FEP also called for amending legislations which allow for issuing “inapplicable” mass death sentences which “only harm Egypt’s reputation internationally”.

The Minya Criminal Court upheld on Saturday death sentences for 183 people accused of killing two policemen and breaking into the Edwa Police Station on 14 August 2013. The same judge presiding over this case also upheld the death sentences for 37 out 528 people who were convicted in March for attacking a police station and killing an officer during last summer’s violence.

“Egypt’s international position and reputation should be a priority,” the FEP statement read.

Three Al Jazeera journalists and 15 other defendants were sent on Monday to prison for a period ranging from 3 to 10 years over charges ranging from aiding a terrorist group to tarnishing Egypt’s image abroad, threatening national security, and “creating a terrorist media network”.

The prison sentence has been strongly criticised by several countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada and Latvia. The European Union, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also widely condemned the sentence.

Four foreigners are among those sentenced on Monday. They include Australian Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste, Britons Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and Dutch journalist Rena Netjes. Only Greste was sentenced in session.

The FEP called for forming an independent committee to filter all laws and legal articles which violate the constitution and limit public and private freedoms.

On 16 June, Al-Sisi issued a presidential decree ordering the formation of a supreme committee for legislative reform. The committee will be tasked with drafting, amending and revising draft legislations prepared by the presidency, the cabinet or its different ministries in accordance with the constitution.

In their joint statement, the group of political movements said it will draft proposed amendments to the Protest Law and send them to the said committee.


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