The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Working Group on Egypt issued an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on her to use U.S. leverage as Egypt's major donor to pressure Egypt to end its longstanding emergency law renewed yesterday.
The letter points out:
While the working group is based out of CEIP, it does represent a range of political affiliations. The letter was signed by Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations, Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress, Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch, Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, RobertKagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Scott Carpenter of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ellen Bork of the Foreign Policy Initiative and Daniel Calingaert of Freedom House.
Since 1981, the Government of Egypt has maintained the state of emergency continuously, ostensibly to fight terrorism and protect its citizens and national security. In practice, however, the emergency law has done precisely the opposite. It has encouraged human rights abuses, stifled the public voice, and fortified Egypt's trend toward authoritarianism. Under the state of emergency, Egyptian citizens face arrest if they participate in political rallies or peaceful demonstrations, trial in military tribunals for political offenses, and prolonged administrative detention without charge. These measures are clearly incompatible with free elections and democratization, which President Mubarak promised twice since his recent return from surgery in Germany.
Secretary Clinton seems to be on the same page as the think tanks. From a State Department release yesterday:
Today, the Government of Egypt announced that it is extending the State of Emergency for an additional two years. This extension is regrettable given the pledge made by the government to the Egyptian people in 2005. A broad range of Egyptian voices, including Egypt’s National Council on Human Rights, have called for the elimination of the State of Emergency.
Egyptian Government also announced today that it would restrict the use of the Emergency Authority to certain categories of cases, and pledged once again to work to pass counterterrorism legislation and lift the State of Emergency. Any move to significantly narrow the application of the Emergency Law would be a step forward if it means greater protection of civil liberties for Egyptian citizens in practice. We are confident that Egypt can draft and adopt effective counterterrorism legislation that conforms to international standards for civil liberties and due process. And the United States urges Egypt to complete this legislation on an urgent basis and to rescind the State of Emergency within the coming months.
The United States understands the challenges that terrorism poses to free societies and we believe that effective counterterrorism measures can be based on legal principles that protect the rights of all citizens.
h/t: Laura Rozen