Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5408 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09CAIRO1925, UPDATE: PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS MINISTER ON

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09CAIRO1925.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO1925 2009-10-08 16:04 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO5680
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1925/01 2811625
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081625Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3796
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 001925 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA/ELA FOR SHAMPAINE/PINA 
NSC FOR KUMAR 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2019 
TAGS: PREL PRGOV PTER KIRF KDEM EG
SUBJECT: UPDATE:  PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS MINISTER ON 
NOVEMBER LEGISLATIVE AGENDA, CT LAW, AND PLACES OF WORSHIP 
LAW 
 
REF: CAIRO 1059 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
 
1. (C) Key Points: 
 
-- Minister of State for Legislative and Parliamentary 
Affairs Moufid Shehab confirmed that the new 
counter-terrorism law would be submitted to parliament by 
March 2010 in order to go into effect before the Emergency 
Law expires in May 2010. However, internal disagreements 
remain on detention limits and how to deal with those 
currently detained under the Emergency Law. 
 
-- According to Shehab, the GoE remains committed to passing 
the Unified Places of Worship legislation this year, but is 
looking at amendments they feel would assure smooth 
implementation. 
 
-- Amendments to the law defining torture and draft 
legislation governing NGOs in Egypt may also be presented in 
the current session. 
 
2. (C) Comment:  In 2007 the GoE extended Emergency Law 
despite President Mubarak's 2005 commitment to lift it and 
could do that again, potentially postponing it to after the 
2010/2011 election season.  Lifting the Emergency Law before 
the June 2010 Shura Council election would send a signal the 
GoE can follow up on its commitments and implement key 
reforms.  We continue to emphasize that new legislation on 
the construction and repair of places of worship is an 
important indicator of progress on religious freedom.  We 
will follow up on proposed changes to the NGO Law given our 
continued concerns about the current registration and 
oversight process. End Comment. 
 
3. (C) The Ambassador met with Minister of State for 
Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Moufid Shehab on 
September 27 to review GoE legislative priorities for the 
November session of parliament.  The Minister was accompanied 
by his newly named advisor, Dr. Ashraf Mohsen, Deputy 
Assistant Foreign Minister and MFA Coordinator for 
Counter-Terrorism, member of the inter-ministerial 
counter-terrorism law drafting committee, and recently named 
head of the Arab League terrorism experts group. 
 
------------------ 
Legislative Agenda 
------------------ 
 
4. (C) The Ambassador noted ongoing U.S. interest in the 
pending draft counter-terrorism legislation ("draft CT Law"), 
the Unified Law on Construction of Places of Worship 
("Unified Law") and raised torture legislation and reports of 
a new draft NGO law.  Minister Shehab said internal 
discussions on the legislative agenda continued and that he 
expected to present a final document to the Council of 
Ministers at the end of October. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Draft Counter-Terrorism Legislation 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) On the draft CT Law, the Ambassador noted the 
importance of lifting the Emergency Law and reinforced her 
earlier message that the U.S. remains concerned that any new 
legislation balance national security with the preservation 
of civil liberties.  Minister Shehab agreed on the need for 
balance and noted the legislation was largely based on the 
British anti-terrorism act.  Shehab confirmed that the draft 
CT Law would be introduced before March 2010 to ensure it is 
in effect before the Emergency Law expires in May 2010. 
However, Shehab said the drafting committee continued to 
discuss the maximum period of detention by police (reftel). 
Shehab said he had advocated against the MOI proposal of 45 
days and that no agreement on a number had been reached by 
the drafting committee.  In contrast, he explained the 
Emergency Law currently allows police to detain a terrorism 
suspect for an unspecified amount of time.  (Note:  In a 
follow-on meeting with PolOff, Dr. Ashraf Mohsen clarified 
that any limit to police detention eventually included in the 
draft CT Law would be subject to routine renewal following an 
application to the courts by the prosecutor.  End Note.) 
Shehab underscored his success securing a separate 
"guarantee" in the Draft CT Law that would require a detainee 
be allowed to challenge his detention before a judge 10 days 
after his arrest.  The draft also ensures that detainees see 
 
CAIRO 00001925  002 OF 003 
 
 
a lawyer within 24 hours (as required by Egypt's Penal Code). 
 Shehab said Draft CT Law would not replace or duplicate the 
Penal Code but would add to it, creating special criminal 
categories and penalties. 
 
6. (C) In a separate meeting, Shehab advisor Mohsen hinted at 
another conflict that has blocked progress in the drafting 
committee; how the law would deal with those suspects who are 
now being detained under the Emergency Law.  According to 
Mohsen, passage of the Draft CT Law would result in the 
immediate release, without prejudice, of all detainees 
currently held under the Emergency Law.  Mohsen added he had 
not seen reliable numbers from the MOI on the number of 
prisoners with this status. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Transferring Cases to Military Courts 
------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Minister Shehab confirmed the draft CT Law would not 
affect the transfer of cases of particular concern to the 
military courts.  He described the military court as a rarely 
used option, (Note: Shehab advisor Mohsen cited only 10 cases 
referred to the court in the last five years.  End Note) but 
said cases against members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) 
will likely continue to be transferred to the military 
courts, calling the MB a danger to the state best handled 
"quietly and firmly."  Shehab advisor Mohsen clarified that 
the President's right to transfer any case from one court to 
another is guaranteed by Article 179 of the Constitution (as 
amended in 2007) which says the president may "...refer any 
terrorist crime to any of the judicial authorities stated in 
the constitution or in the law."  Shehab highlighted recent 
improvements to the military court system, including the 
creation of a military appeals court.  He emphasized the 
president's decision is "administrative" and therefore "in 
principle" can be over-turned by the Egyptian State Council. 
(Note:  The State Council is a constitutionally mandated 
judicial body made up of sitting judges that rules on 
"administrative disputes" and "disciplinary cases."  There is 
only one case that we are aware of in which a judge refuted 
the President's decision.  In May 2007, Administrative Court 
Judge Mohammed Al Husseiny overturned the president's 
decision to transfer MB Guidance Bureau member Khariat El 
Shatter's case to the military court.  His decision was later 
overruled, and El Shatter is now serving a seven-year 
sentence for money laundering and planning terrorist 
activities.  In June 2009 Husseiny became the President of 
the State Council after the retirement of his predecessor. 
End Note.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
Draft Unified Law on Construction of Places of Worship 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
8. (C) The Ambassador raised the Unified Law on Construction 
of Places of Worship ("Unified Law"), noting that the U.S. 
sees passage of a law that would equalize the construction 
permits process for churches and mosques as a fairness issue. 
 Minister Shehab reviewed the history of the Unified Law and 
agreed that the current mechanism in which church 
construction requires presidential approval is unequal and 
unsustainable.  However, Shehab noted that the GoE, including 
President Mubarak, remain concerned that the Unified Law 
would lead to an uptick in requests for the construction of 
both mosques and churches and that refusals would be the 
subject of lawsuits that would clog the courts.  (Note:  It 
is unclear why the draft would lead to a change in the number 
of mosque requests.  Currently mosque construction is 
regulated at the local level by a committee as the Unified 
Law proposes.  End Note).  Shehab said he was working on an 
amendment that would require that any refusal to construct a 
place of worship (mosque or church) be forwarded to President 
Mubarak for his review.  Requests for repair would continue 
to be agreed to at the committee level.  According to Shehab, 
the president's role is designed to help diminish criticism 
or resistance to the implementation of the committee's 
decisions. 
 
------- 
Torture 
------- 
 
9. (C) Minister Shehab indicated his Ministry was also 
reviewing a change to Article 126 of the Penal Code which 
defines torture.  Shehab noted that the definition of torture 
in the current law defines it as a crime only if in the 
 
CAIRO 00001925  003 OF 003 
 
 
pursuit of a confession to a crime and does not conform to 
the definition in the UN's torture convention, to which Egypt 
is a signatory. 
 
------- 
NGO Law 
------- 
 
10. (C) Shehab confirmed media reports that a new draft law 
governing civil society organizations was being circulated by 
Dr. Abdel Aziz Hegazi, Chair of the General Federation of 
NGOs and Foundations (the NGO syndicate) that would transfer 
many NGO-management functions from the Ministry of Social 
Services (MOSS) to the Federation, including the initial 
authorization process.  Shehab called Hegazi's efforts "a 
revolution" in how NGO's are viewed in Egypt and said the 
amendments would allow for more freedom.  The Ambassador 
noted that the issue many NGO's raise with the Embassy is not 
inefficiencies at MOSS but delayed responses from the MOI in 
the processing of registration requests and the authorization 
of fund transfers from international donors.  In response, 
Shehab and Mohsen raised money-laundering concerns, 
particularly to MB-affiliated groups.  The Ambassador 
underscored the need to balance these legitimate security 
concerns with efforts to ensure rapid review and diminished 
interference in the approval process. 
Scobey