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Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky announced on Thursday new articles that would be added to the draft law on the right to protest, which is currently up for discussion in the Shura Council.
The new articles would stipulate that demonstrations can only be dispersed in the presence of a judge, and demonstrations can only be banned by a court ruling.
Every citizen has the right to demonstrate, Mekky added, but all countries have certain regulations on demonstrations, such as banning demonstrations in front of the seat of government. Many of these regulations exist to safeguard the demonstrators themselves, he claimed.
The draft law was prepared by the Shura Council’s Legislative Committee in coordination with the Human Rights Committee. It has been criticized for its broad restrictions on demonstrations and strikes.
The 26-article bill says that organizers of any public assembly or peaceful gathering must obtain permission from the authorities three days ahead of time. The police have the right to attend any such assembly and shut it down if it discusses or does anything not outlined in the application for permission, “if there is shouting,” or if there is any promotion of “sedition.”
A public assembly is defined in the bill as “any meeting in a public or private place that people can enter without having an individual invitation in their hands.”
Justice Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Roshdy stressed that the demonstrating bill will not grant the Interior Ministry the right to reject any demonstration, just those that are not in accordance with the law.
Edited Translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm