Strict anti-terrorism laws have been approved in Egypt in an attempt to crack down on rising levels of extremism and combat jihadist insurgency.
Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has put in place what he claimed to do in June of this year after Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat was assassinated by a roadside car bomb.
Mr. Sisi suspected that the Islamist party Muslim Brotherhood were responsible and has consequently sentenced a number of suspected group members to death and imprisonment.
Following the assassination, al-Sisi pledged to enforce tough new legislation in an attempt to quash the escalating levels of violence in the country. His cabinet subsequently drafted a package of proposed anti- terrorism legislation.
On Sunday, the president along with the State Council approved the new 54 article law which was published on the state news agency MENA.
The new laws came into practice on Monday. Under the new legislation:
- Those involved with a militant group could face a lengthy prison term upward of ten years.
- Measures will be put in place to fast track the trials of suspected jihadist militants which would take place in special courts. These courts will also have the power to rapidly review cases involving suspected terrorism.
- Individuals helping to finance a militant group will face life imprisonment.
- The spreading of terrorist propaganda will be punishable by up to seven years imprisonment.
- Journalists will be fined up to £41,000 for misinterpreting and publishing unofficial data regarding militant attacks.
- Police and military personnel are protected if they have used force to combat militants, effectively giving these officials immunity from prosecution.
- Heads and founders of terrorist groups will face the death penalty.
These laws have been deemed as highly flawed and there has been a growing amount of pressure to scrap this legislation entirely.
Amnesty International have stated that serious revisions need to be made to the newly formed legislation and that the extreme anti- terror laws mimic those that would usually be imposed on the country during a state of emergency, such as the lengthy period under the turbulent rule of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Amnesty International have also stated that the laws do not comply with either the Egyptian constitution or international law. Dalia Fahmy, member of the Egyptian Rule of Law Association has said that the law “is not protecting the citizenry but rather protecting the state” and that “it is becoming indicative of the consolidation of power in the hands of the executive.”