Rights activist calls for transparency in restructuring of security apparatus

An Egyptian human rights activist on Thursday called on the Interior Ministry to open up the restructuring of Egypt’s security apparatus for public debate, suggesting that any plans for restructuring the agency should be transparent and subject to supervision by a body independent of the ministry.

In a press statement, Bahi al-Din Hassan, the director of the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies, said that the restricting of the security apparatus should be a matter of public discussion, not an internal ministerial matter.

Interior Minister Mansour Essawy dissolved the State Security Investigations Service (SSIS) in March, replacing it with the National Security Agency. He also fired a number of top officers within the agency and promised that the new organization would not be authorized to spy on or otherwise oppress Egyptian citizens. It would not be permitted to interfere in the electoral process either, he said.

However, many have feared that the changes made to the security apparatus are essentially cosmetic, and that since many of the officers of the SSIS are now employed by the NSA, many of the bad practices of former times are likely to continue.

Hassan noted that Interior Ministry officials had been making media statements to reassure the public regarding its planned restructuring of the security apparatus, but had not disclosed the details of the plan.

He went on to say that over the last decade, the dissolved SSIS had formed a network of institutional ties with gangs of thugs who were used to suppress the opposition during elections and protests.

He pointed to the continued existence of these practices, saying that such thugs had been used in recent months, despite the abolition of the SSIS. Hassan said that this probably meant that former officers – or those still in service – were still running these gangs for their own political agendas.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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