Middle East

Egypt high court bars police from universities

Egyptian policeman at the American University in Cairo - 8 June 2009
Campus police are often used to suppress protests linked to opposition groups

The high court in Egypt has ordered the government to abolish police units at university campuses.

The court rejected a government appeal against an earlier ruling which declared the permanent deployment of police on campuses unconstitutional.

Rights groups have long criticised the presence of police on campuses, saying its sole purpose was to prevent students from engaging in politics.

The case was brought against the government by a group of professors.

They have long campaigned for the independence of academic institutions and are part of a broad coalition of activists in opposition to the authoritarian rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 29 years.

The presence of police at universities is often used to suppress political protests organised by students affiliated to the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and other leftist groups.

The police control access to the campus and can deny entry to visitors and the media.

The court ruling is final, but the government may still use emergency powers, as it has done in the past, to circumvent the law.