By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Police officers working on establishing a first of its kind syndicate say the ministry of interior was trying to “penalize” and “intimidate” the participating policemen.
“The MOI started to summon us for investigation as a punishment or an attempt to intimidate us. I was called to respond to claims that we are calling for division and diffusion within the ministry,” Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Nabil Omar, founding member of the syndicate, told Daily News Egypt.
“Leading [officials] at the MOI still adhere to the old practices”.
Members of the General Coalition of Police Officers announced Sunday the launch of the General Syndicate for Police Officers. They said the aim is to revive and reinforce “the police is in the service of the people” slogan, which under continuous abuses by the security, has lost credibility and is often mocked.
Through the syndicate, they want to improve the working conditions for officers as well as defend their interests and rights without discrimination.
This announcement was made during the Coalition’s celebration of its first anniversary, which was attended by dozens of police officers, who joined the syndicate that is still under construction; Mansor Hassan, head of SCAF-appointed Advisory Council; former army General Sameh Sief Al-Yazal, strategic expert; MP Hamdy El-Fakhrany; Wajih Afifi Salama, presidential hopeful; and a representative of presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq.
This announcement provoked resistance from security experts and the Ministry of Interior (MOI), Omar said.
Brigadier-General Hany Abdel Latief, vice head of the media and public relations department at the ministry, refused to respond to these claims, saying that the MOI is still examining the issue.
While there has been no official response from the MOI about the syndicate, Brigadier-General Hamada Heniedy, from the media and PR department at the ministry, said that there are a number of regularities that do not allow the establishment of a syndicate for police officers as the security work should not be subjected to partisan or religious affiliations.
“This idea is not a novelty; there are 42 syndicates for police officers around the world including in Tunisia, France and Senegal,” Omar said. “There is even an international union for these syndicates”.
Such syndicates, he continued, seek to separate security from politics and from militarizing the police in the hand of the president.
The police was criticized for being the heavy hand of the Mubarak regime. President Hosni Mubarak was ousted following an uprising that started on Police Day in 2011.
“We need a legal framework that allows us to do that and protect us while trying to participate in restructuring the ministry and enhance its performance,” he added.
Amid a year-long security vacuum and continuous deadly crackdowns on protests and other violations, calls for restructuring the ministry have been getting louder, with eyes set on the recently elected parliament to “purge” the ministry as MPs proposed.
At the ceremony, Omar said that the constitution gives the police the right to establish a syndicate for being a civil entity and not a military one, according to official Middle East News Agency.
This was reportedly denied by officials from the Ministry of Manpower. Officials at the ministry could not be reached by press time for comment.
Omar said the syndicate received around 791 applications for membership within 24 hours of the announcement of its launch.
“Honorable” police officers are committed to reform, but according to Omar, an empty hand has nothing to give.
“A police officer doesn’t have the [concept] of defending and calling for his rights; therefore, when a citizen does that he gets nervous and don’t know how to deal with him,” he explained.
The culture and ideology of the human resources in the security process should be changed to be able to deal with citizens in a different way rather than that before the revolution, Omar told DNE.
“We only want justice, a decent life and freedom of expression, so we would be able to restore security and treat citizens in a better way,” he said.