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Friday, 29 May 2020

Egypt's parliament to discuss amendments regulating prisons, fatwas and construction projects

One of the amendments bans conditional release for prisoners convicted of organising illegal gatherings, drug trafficking and money laundering

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 22 Feb 2020
Egypt parliament
File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's House of Representatives will convene on Sunday to discuss a new batch of government-drafted amendments.

The House's schedule of debate shows that laws aimed at regulating the release of prisoners convicted for organising illegal public gatherings, terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering will be discussed this week, mostly on Sunday and Monday.

A seven-page report prepared by the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee and Human Rights Committee indicates that the laws on prisons (396/1956), drug trafficking (182/1960), terrorism (94/2015), and money laundering (94/2002) will be amended to impose a ban on the "conditional release" of defendants serving prison sentences in crimes related to organising illegal public gatherings, carrying out terrorist acts, trafficking drugs and laundering money.

"The current law on regulating prisons bans defendants convicted of drug trafficking crimes only from being released," stated the report.

"As stated by the law regulating prisons, the term 'conditional release' means that those who are serving freedom-restricting sentences can be released on three conditions: they must have served more than half their sentence; exhibit good behaviour and manners; make sure they will not pose a threat to public security once released," said the report.

"An article 52 will be added to the prison regulation law (396/1956) to state that defendants serving sentences in crimes related to organising illegal public gathering, trafficking drugs, laundering money and carrying out terrorist crimes can't enjoy any form of conditional release."

The report indicated that MPs from the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Human Rights Committee approved the new amendment, agreeing that it aims to cover a legislative loophole which allowed some criminals to win judicial rulings to be conditionally released.

"The new amendment is in line with international conventions on human rights and helps protect society from serious crimes such as drug trafficking and organising illegal gatherings," said the report.

Parliament will also discuss a legislative amendment proposed by MP Osama El-Abd, head of the Religious Affairs and Endowment Committee, to the law regulating the performance of the Egyptian Dar El-Iftaa (the Egyptian House of Fatwas).

A parliamentary report said the amendment states that the grand mufti of Egypt will be appointed by the president from among three religious scholars to be nominated by the Council of Grand Clerics, and that this should happen within two months ahead of the end of the present mufti's term in office. The appointed mufti will retain his post until the retirement age and could be reappointed, suggests the amendment.

Parliament will also discuss government-drafted amendments to the construction law (119/2008), which aim to regulate public construction projects and set up a higher council for planning and urban development to be officially entrusted with granting construction licences in line with environmental, social and economic criteria.

Parliament is also slated to resume discussing amendments to the new personal data protection law.

The law was approved in principle on 3 November 2019, but a final vote was postponed until the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Central Bank of Egypt reach an agreement on Article 3 which excludes certain personal data from being governed by the law.

MPs are expected to take a final vote on amendments to four laws which were approved in principle two weeks ago. These include the anti-terrorism law, the terrorist entities law, the consumer finance law, and the tax dispute law.

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