[JURIST] Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif [official profile] has said that he plans to replace [JURIST report] the country's 25-year-old emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder] with anti-terror legislation. The emergency laws, renewed every three years, are set to expire in May. They were adopted in 1981 in response to the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat [CNN profile], and grant the government the power to arrest anyone who appears to pose a threat to state security and detain them for renewable 45-day periods. The laws also allow military courts to try civilians, and bar public demonstrations.
The laws have come under heavy criticism [HRW press release] from opposition forces as well as local and international human rights groups. The Egyptian government says it has rarely invoked the emergency laws, and only used them in response to repeated attacks by suspected Islamic militants. They also became an issue [JURIST report] during the 2005 election. Prime Minister Nazif told parliament late Wednesday that he will form a committee to draft the replacement anti-terror legislation, but has yet to provide a timeline for the project. AFP has more.