Egypt: Human rights campaigners file lawsuit to prevent police misuse of firearms

Egyptian activists have filed a lawsuit seeking to abolish a decree from 1964 which allows the police to use firearms to disperse demonstrations, stating that it gives them free reign to commit serious human rights violations. The case was initiated by Malek Mustafa who lost his sight in one eye after being hit by a rubber bullet during demonstrations last year, and supported by several human rights groups. Referring to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Karim Ennarah of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said, “Our main concern is to make the distinction between use of force and use of firearms". In a recent report, EPIR stated, “Exceptional circumstances such as internal political instability … may not be invoked to justify any departure from these basic principles. The use of firearms to disperse a peaceful demonstration is illegal”.  IANSA members the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights are monitoring the case, which is due for a second hearing on 8 May.