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Monday, 22 July 2019

Egypt cabinet rejects draft law ‎aimed at stripping 'convicted terrorists' ‎of nationality

MPs said the draft law is necessary to deter ‎Egyptians staying in Turkey and Qatar from ‎orchestrating terrorist attacks against their ‎country

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 2 Jan 2017
A file photo from the attempt to assassinate the minister of interior in September 2013 (Photo:Hashim Abou-El-Amayem)
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In a meeting held by parliament's legislative and ‎constitutional affairs committee on Sunday ‎evening, justice ministry spokesman Haitham Al-Baqli told MPs that the draft ‎law aimed at stripping defendants convicted of ‎committing terrorism crimes of their nationality contravenes article ‎‎53 of Egypt's 2014 constitution.

"Article 53 of ‎the constitution is clear that it rejects any form ‎of discrimination among citizens and that they ‎are equal before law," said Al-Baqli.

He argued ‎that "article 53 means that there should not be ‎any sort of discrimination among citizens even in ‎terms of penalties leveled against them." ‎

Al-Baqli indicated that Egypt's penal code ‎refrains from stripping the nationality of citizens ‎who are found guilty of crimes much worse than ‎terrorism crimes.

"We see some discrimination ‎here and this violates article 53 of the ‎constitution," Al-Baqli said.‎

The draft law, proposed by independent MP and ‎high-profile journalist Mostafa Bakri – which has been ‎approved by 60 MPs -- aims to amend article ‎‎26 of 1975's law on Egyptian nationality, which ‎grants the country's prime minister the power to strip ‎citizens convicted of certain crimes of their ‎nationality.

"This article should be amended so ‎that the prime minister be granted the right to ‎strip citizens found guilty of committing ‎terrorism crimes of their nationality," Bakri said.‎

Bakri argued that the amendment of the 1972 ‎nationality law has become a necessity after an ‎Islamic State militant group suicide bomber carried out an attack on a ‎church attached to the Cairo Coptic Cathedral ‎on 11 September, leaving 27 dead and more ‎than 40 injured.‎

Bakri said "the attack against the church ‎represented a dangerous development in ‎terrorism crimes and that the state should do ‎everything possible to foil these attacks.

‎‎"Amending the law to strip convicted ‎terrorists and those who incite them to commit ‎terrorism crimes of their nationality would be a ‎highly effective move aimed at stemming the ‎tide of these crimes," Bakri said.‎

Margaret Azer, an independent MP, ‎supported Bakri's amendment, arguing that ‎‎"some European countries such as France have ‎resorted to stripping convicted terrorists of their ‎nationality as a deterrent move aimed at foiling ‎terrorism crimes."‎

Sami Ramadan, another independent MP, told ‎the committee that "it is high time to strip ‎convicted terrorists of their nationality especially ‎after it has become clear that most of those who ‎carried out terrorist attacks inside Egypt were ‎Egyptians."‎

Ramadan also argued that "Bakri's legislative ‎amendments would be highly effective in deterring ‎Egyptians who joined terrorist movements such ‎as the IS militant group and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, Libya, ‎Turkey and Qatar from coming back to their ‎country," said Ramadan.

"Many ‎terrorism cases have shown that those who plot ‎terrorism attacks against Egypt or recruit ‎resident citizens to carry out terrorism attacks ‎inside the country stay in Qatar and Turkey," Ramadan argued.

‎‎"Most of these who have blood on their hands ‎inside or outside the country hold Egyptian ‎nationality and if stripped of it, it ‎would be a message to such terrorists ‎to have second thoughts before targeting their ‎country again," said Ramadan.‎

Bakri attacked the justice ministry official's ‎rejection of the draft law, insisting that terrorism ‎crimes have become the most dangerous and ‎that the constitution itself allows the ‎government to take all measures necessary and ‎possible to counter terrorism acts.

"Article 237 ‎states that the state should do everything ‎possible to eliminate all forms of terrorism," ‎Bakri said.‎

Some MPs, such as the committee's secretary-‎general Mohamed Atta Selim, however, ‎expressed reservations, wondering "where terrorists ‎will go after they are stripped of their ‎nationality?"‎

Bakri said terrorists stripped of their nationality ‎would lose all the privileges of a citizen.

"Not only they ‎will be imprisoned, but they will also be treated ‎as foreigners and those who plot terrorism ‎crimes will not be allowed to enter the country," ‎said Bakri.‎

The committee's chairman Bahaaeddin Abu ‎Shoqa said he approves the law in principle, ‎‎"but it needs some research to see whether it ‎violates the constitution."

"I think we need one ‎or two weeks to reach a decision on this matter ‎before this important draft law is discussed in a ‎plenary session," said Abu Shoqa. ‎



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