Cairo University Withdraws Proposal Granting Arrest Power To Guards

Cairo University head Gaber Nassar decided on Sunday to cancel a proposal to grant university security arrest powers, following a meeting with the university’s student union, Al-Ahram’s Arabic website reported.

Nassar and the student union representatives have agreed to improve the university’s security by other means.

The proposal was floated by the transitional cabinet two weeks ago in anticipation of the new academic year. It gave security guards the right to arrest any student who commits actions that are punishable by law, also allowing guards to file complaints against arrested students. Students would then be sent to state prosecutors for investigation.

However, the attempt to grant arrest powers to university security triggered widespread condemnation by both students and human rights organisations.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Higher Education Hossam Eissa defended the decision last week, asserting that it aims to counter acts of sabotage.

“It is unreasonable not to give [university] security the right to defend buildings against sabotage,” he stated.

It remains unclear whether Nassar’s decision will extend to the rest of Egypt’s public universities, or if it will only be applied to Cairo University.

In October 2010, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld a verdict to remove police from university campuses. University police, appointed by the interior ministry, were notorious for their heavy-handed tactics and for targeting politically-active members of the student body. In the aftermath of the 25 January 2011 uprising, security guards were hired to maintain peace on campuses.

Source : Ahram