In a surprise move that may further escalate the political situation in Egypt, Minister of Justice Adel Abdul Hamid issued a decree that authorizes intelligence officers and military police to arrest non-military individuals. The decree will remain in force until a new constitution is implemented. Many legal and political experts deemed this decision a “legislative deviation” that will pave the way for reviving emergency law.
Decree 4991/2012 was published in the 136th issue of the Egyptian state newspaper on June 13, 2012.
The decree states the following: “After reviewing the Constitutional Declaration issued on March 30, 2011, the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Military Justice issued by virtue of Law 25/1966, it has been stipulated in Article 1:
"Without prejudice to the powers set forth in the Code of Military Justice, promulgated by virtue of Law 25/1966, officers and non-commissioned officers of military intelligence and military police are authorized to judicially arrest non-military individuals. The Minister of Defense, or his authorized representative, shall grant the aforementioned military officers the power of judicial arrest stipulated in section I, II, II bis, XII and XIII of the Second Book of the Penal Code, and in Chapter XV and XVI of the Third book of same Law.”
Major General Adel Al-Morsi, chairperson of the military court, said that the decree was made to address the legislative void given the presence of armed forces in the streets. He said that the Minister of Justice has the power to issue such decree as per Article 23 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Essam el-Erian, vice chairman of the Freedom and Justice party and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the People’s Assembly, said that the decree will be subject to parliamentary control.