The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) challenged Thursday the decision of Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend to grant Musicians' Syndicate and Actors' Syndicate officials the power of arrest to violators of the syndicates' law.
The ECESR statement described the justice minister's decision as part of "a chaos of granting the power of arrest to public employees and non-public employees".
The center said in a statement Thursday that the decision violates the Egyptian Criminal Procedure Code and the law regulating the power of arrest, as well as international conventions ratified by Egypt, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The law regulating the power of arrest states that the power of arrest could only be granted to public employees, which does not apply to the officials of the actors' and musicians' syndicates, said the statement.
The purpose of unions and syndicates is to organize the affairs of each profession and to protect the rights of its members and provide the necessary support for them to exercise their profession in an atmosphere of liberty and security, the statement continued.
The ECESR said it believes unions and syndicates should not be part of the state's battle against the freedom of innovation.
Artistic works and activities should not be restricted or limited to specific groups and artists should not be forced to join syndicates or unions against their will to be able to practice art, as it represents a clear violation of the principle of the freedom of unions and the constitution, said the statement.
The justice minister has issued similar decisions in granting the power of arrest to neighborhood heads, Engineers' Syndicate officials, Teachers' Syndicate officials, Petroleum Ministry officials, Endowment Ministry inspectors, Solidarity Ministry inspectors, university guards and others.
The Musicians' Syndicate announced Thursday that it would ban Ibn Arabi, a Sufi Moroccan band, from giving concerts in Egypt due to its violations of the syndicate's regulations.
The band has not paid the fees imposed on foreign bands and musicians who operate in Egypt, and did not obtain a permit from the syndicate before holding their most recent concert in Egypt, according to media advisor to the Musicians' Syndicate Tareq Mortada.
The syndicate heard of the incident after Ibn Arabi's last concert concluded so the power of arrest was not applied to the band members, according to Mortada.
Mortada said in a statement Tuesday that the justice minister's decision comes in line with Law no. 8 (2003) which imposes sanctions on musicians who give concerts without a prior permit from the syndicate or without being members of the syndicate.