The Egyptian Parliament [official website] on Tuesday voted to extend the country's state of emergency [JURIST news archive] for two years. Despite the two-year extension, parliament voted to limit the application of the emergency laws [Al Jazeera report] only to cases of terrorism and drug trafficking. In a speech [text, PDF; in Arabic] to parliament, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif [official profile] said:
The emergency law will not be used to undermine freedoms or infringe upon rights if these two threats are not involved. The Government also commits itself to enforce safeguards regarding the use of these measures as required by the Constitution, the law and international agreements, and that all such measures be taken under judicial supervision. These are the standards which we will impose upon ourselves and which we are committed to because we are an ancient nation that has contributed to human rights; contributions which have been codified in constitutions, laws and treaties which we are committed to fulfilling.Opposition groups are protesting [Al-Masry Al-Youm report] the extension of the emergency laws, claiming they have been ineffective and are used to stifle dissent.
One of the groups opposed to the extension of the emergency laws is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) [party website; JURIST news archive], which has been banned in Egypt. Last month, Attorney General Abdul Magid Mahmoud announced that five international MB members will be tried in an Egyptian criminal court [JURIST report] on charges of money laundering. Egypt has also used the emergency laws extensively against other opposition parties. In July, the trial of 26 individuals with alleged ties to Hezbollah was transferred to a court [JURIST report] established under the emergency laws. In February 2009, a military court utilized the laws during a trial in which it sentenced [JURIST report] opposition leader Magdy Ahmed Hussein to two years in prison. The emergency laws have been in effect continuously since the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and were renewed [JURIST report] most recently in May 2008.