Posted 10 months ago on Jan. 30, 2013, 2:52 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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The emergency powers give the police the authority to detain people in three cities for up to 30 days without any judicial review, and permit trials of those detained before emergency security courts. Judicial review of detention is a fundamental right that may not be removed, even during emergencies.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on article 4 (on states of emergency) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party, states that:
States parties may in no circumstances invoke article 4 of the Covenant as justification for acting in violation of … peremptory norms of international law, for instance through arbitrary deprivations of liberty or by deviating from fundamental principles of fair trial, including the presumption of innocence…In order to protect non-derogable rights, the right to take proceedings before a court to enable the court to decide without delay on the lawfulness of detention, must not be diminished by a State party’s decision to derogate from the Covenant.
Other key rights are also non-derogable during a state of emergency, including the right to life, the prohibition of torture, and the principle of legality in criminal law. The imposition of the emergency law in Egypt has historically invited police abuse because it allowed the police to detain people for up to 45 days without ever seeing a prosecutor. In a case before the European Court of Human Rights, the court found excessive Turkey’s detention of a person for 14 days without judicial review during a declared state of emergency. A country may not suspend the right to judicial review of detention even in emergency, Human Rights Watch said.
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