Security sector reform (also known as SSR) is one of the most pressing challenges of the transitional period in Egypt, and of particular concern is reform of the police sector, as this institution’s corrupt practices helped paved the way for the outbreak of the revolution. The January 25th revolution took place on the national holiday commemorating Egypt’s police force to send a message reflecting the great extent to which Egyptians had suffered from police brutality. For this reason, some protesters targeted and attacked police stations during the height of the revolution in an attempt to avenge their suffering. The importance of addressing these issues continues in the post-Mubarak period, particularly in light of the Ministry of Interior’s plan, which was announced by the Minister in February of this year, to take steps towards reforming and restructuring Egypt’s security sector. Additionally, SSR is one of five priorities in President Morsi’s 100-day plan to rebuild Egypt, which particularly focuses on returning police presence to Egypt’s streets to combat the security vacuum created during the transitional period.
The problem of the police sector is associated with its general lack of respect for human rights when dealing with citizens. Moreover, state security officials and high ranking police officers have often disregarded their duty as service providers and have instead relied on fear tactics to intimidate the public. Egypt’s police force has also failed to adhere to its mandate as outlined in the Egyptian Police Act No.109 of 1971, which stipulates that the primary responsibility of the police is to preserve order, public security and morality, to protect lives and property and particularly to prevent crimes and seize criminals. It is also responsible for ensuring peace and security for all citizens in all sectors, and for performing all of its duties as stipulated by laws and regulations. Despite all of this, the police force was used by Egypt’s most recent ruler as a tool to suppress opposition and preserve his own security at the expense of the safety and security of the citizens.