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U.N. troubled by Egypt's protest laws

Feb. 19, 2013 at 1:25 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- There are serious concerns about draft laws, supported by the Egyptian government, that place restrictions on the right to protest, a U.N. official said.

The Egyptian government last week passed a draft measure that would prohibit demonstrations within 600 feet of government buildings and require groups to notify authorities within three days of planned demonstrations.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the draft measure was regrettable.

"Although freedom of assembly can be subject to certain restrictions, freedom should be considered the rule and restrictions the exception," he said in a Tuesday statement. "In its current form, the draft law raises concern with regard to the type and scope of limitations imposed."

Cairo said the draft measure is meant to ensure public safety during demonstrations.

Protests turned violent last month as Egyptians marked two years since an uprising forced Hosni Mubarak to resign after 30 years as president.

The bill must be passed by the Egyptian Parliament to become law.

"We strongly advise that there should be further consideration of the content of the draft law so to ensure it complies with international human rights law standards," Colville said.

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