Amended Egyptian Laws Restrict Rights Following Lifting of State of Emergency

11/13/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – The Egyptian parliament passed three laws that consolidate the executive and military powers, essentially replacing the state of emergency that was just lifted by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. El-Sisi’s Cabinet submitted the amendments to parliament on October 23, just days before the state of emergency was not renewed.

The amended laws include the protection of public facilities law, the counter-terrorism law, and the Penal Code. The law regarding public facilities stipulates that those caught trespassing on public facilities such as railways, gas lines, and oil fields, can be tried in military courts. This further emphasizes the lack of justice that prisoners of conscience face, also being tried in military courts with no possibility for appeal, on issues that do not warrant military involvement.

The counter-terrorism law amendments allow for the president to delegate an official to execute curfew or evacuation orders. The president can also then issue prison sentences up to 15 years for violating the orders. Amendments to Penal Code Article 80a reduces military transparency regarding “revealing state secrets to foreign states”. It is now a punishable offense for anyone to collect any information on the Egyptian Armed Forces, its members, or its work, without written authorization.

These amendments approved by the Egyptian parliament underscore that the lifting of the state of emergency was merely a superficial move while pending legislation sought to more deeply entrench the government in restricting human rights. MP Maha Abdel Nasser of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party reportedly commented on the laws saying, “we have reservations about the timing, as it coincides with the president’s abolition of the state of emergency and the issuance of the human rights strategy.”

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