New Egypt law bars police from speaking to media

Legislation seeks to prohibit officers from providing information to media without government permission.

Egypt - Police
Officers who break the new law could face unspecified prison terms and fines of up to $2,252 [EPA]

Egypt’s parliament has passed legislation that will prohibit police from providing information to the media without government permission, a move that critics say is an attempt to further cover up high-level abuses and corruption.

Amendments to the police authority law, approved by parliament on Tuesday, will bar police officers from providing information or publishing any documents, reports or photos related to their work without written authorisation from the interior ministry.

Officers who break the new law could face unspecified prison terms and fines of up to $2,252.

In February, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told the interior minister to crack down on police abuse and to submit proposals to parliament to achieve this goal, as anger mounted after a low-ranking police officer shot dead a driver over a fare argument.

But critics see the amendments as being designed to cover up high-level wrongdoing.

“This law is yet another example of the government’s ongoing effort to undermine transparency which is essential to the proper functioning of a modern state,” said Timothy Kaldas, non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

“This plan to strictly curate information from the state will exacerbate existing doubts about the integrity of government statements.”

The amendments also demanded that police officers show respect for human rights.

Human rights groups and lawyers have long complained about what they see as a culture of impunity among officials in Egypt and say that police brutality is widespread.

Source: News Agencies