Court overturns govt decree allowing military to arrest civilians

An administrative court overturned a government decree allowing the army to arrest civilians on Tuesday, a setback for military rulers preparing to hand power to an elected president.

The decree was issued by the army-backed interim government before a tense presidential runoff vote on 16-17 June.

“The court has blocked the decision of the justice minister that gave military and military intelligence officers powers of arrest,” said Judge Ali Fikry.

The decree was challenged by rights activists and politicians who accused the generals of reviving the Emergency Law that lapsed in May. It was issued days after the state of emergency ended.

The Emergency Law granted extensive powers to security forces under former President Hosni Mubarak, allowing them to arrest and detain civilians for long periods of time without referring them to trial.  

Human Rights Watch had criticized the Justice Ministry decree, saying it “sharply reduces civilian oversight of military actions.” Amnesty International said it would pave the way for fresh human rights violations.

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