Egypt's parliament provisionally approved a law on Tuesday banning the use of electronically and wirelessly operated aircraft – commonly called drones – that could potentially be used for terrorist attacks.
Article 1 of the law bans those drones capable of carrying explosives or weapons systems that could pose a danger to the country’s national security and that could be operated by a remote-control system. The article states that the Ministry of Defence will be the only institution authorized to license the use of such aircraft.
Article 2 states that local administration units, such as public ministries, local councils, public institutions, companies and individuals, will be banned from the import, manufacturing, assembling, handling, possession and trading in drones. They will need prior approval from the Ministry of Defence for any such activities.
Article 3 states that violators of Articles 1 and 2 could face prison terms ranging from one to seven years, as well as fines ranging from LE5,000 to LE50,000. Violators could also face the death penalty if they use drones in committing terrorist acts. The Article gives the Ministry of Defence the right of sequestrating any technologies of this sort that could be used in launching terrorist attacks.
However, Army Major General Mamdouh Shahin, deputy defence minister for constitutional affairs and military justice, told parliament in a plenary session on Tuesday that the law does not impose a total ban on the use of drones.
“It allows the use of such drones only with prior and exclusive approval from the Ministry of Defence,” said Shaheen.
He added: “As such drones could be used in useful economic and sport activities, the ministry of defence refrained from imposing an absolute ban in this respect.”
The law was quickly approved by a majority of MPs, who agreed that recent developments showed that terrorists – particularly in North Sinai – could have access to drones in mounting terrorist attacks.
Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the final approval of the law will be postponed until it has been revised by the State Council in legislative and constitutional terms and in line with the constitution.
“As this law directly affects a certain public freedom, which is trading in certain technologies in the form of import and export, it has to be revised first by the State Council to see whether it is in line with the constitution,” said Abdel-Aal.