CAIRO: The Administrative Court upheld Saturday a previous ruling that ends police supervision on university campuses in Egypt.
Led by Counselor Mohamed Abdel-Ghani, head of the State Council, the court’s verdict makes the presence of interior ministry security illegal, and says Egyptian universities should instead employ civilian guards.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal and Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly had contested a previous ruling that ordered civilian security units to replace police forces on campuses.
About two years ago, the March 9 Movement — a group of Cairo University professors who press for university autonomy and academic freedom — filed a lawsuit before the Administrative Court calling for an end to police interference in universities’ affairs.
Even though the ruling is final and cannot be appealed, some lawyers expect the interior ministry or the university administration to procrastinate its implementation.
“The ruling is final. But the interior ministry can still avoid it in one way or another,” Ahmed Seif El-Islam, a lawyer with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, told Daily News Egypt.
“For example police forces can be placed outside the university fence…[or] they can don civilian uniforms and be supervised by the university instead of the interior ministry,” he added.
According to Seif El-Islam, “The police control of universities violates the constitution which guarantees the independence of universities.”
Saturday’s ruling comes on the heels of a number of violations reported at some public universities in which policemen were allegedly involved.
Earlier this month, a female student at Al-Azhar University’s Zagazig branch in Sharqiya governorate was reportedly beaten up by a police officer after questioning why he asked to search her. The student reportedly suffered severe injuries that required hospitalization.
The incident caused outrage among university students nationwide after a video of the incident recorded via a colleague’s mobile was circulated on some websites. Several groups on the social networking website Facebook were created, calling for legal action against the officer.
Following this incident, numerous protests were held at universities across Egypt, also demanding an end to police interference on campuses.
Students also allege that police interfered in the recent student union elections, excluding dozens of students who belong to political groups from electoral lists.
“The rights of students have been violated, especially with [recurrent] police interference in university affairs,” March 9 member Awatef Abdel-Rahman previously told Daily News Egypt.
“The coming March 9 conference will be partially dedicated to students’ affairs…and the increasing [intrusion] of the interior ministry in students’ life,” she added.
In response to the recent events, the March 9 Movement vowed full support of the students through a campaign named “Defending Egypt’s Students.”
Several human rights advocates and lawyers have joined forces with the professors, filing a number of lawsuits in a bid to end such violations and seek punishment for those responsible.