Amended draft of Egypt's controversial protest law to be submitted to cabinet next week

Ahram Online , Monday 13 Jun 2016

If the amendments to the controversial 2013 protest law are passed by cabinet, the legislation will be then discussed by the parliament for the first time

Magdy El-Agati
Minster of Parliamentary Affairs Magdi El-Agati (Photo: Al Ahram)

The governmental committee tasked with amending Egypt’s controversial protest law will submit a draft to cabinet next week, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdy El-Agati announced on Monday.

"The committee, which is formed of legal consultants affiliated with the ministry, is currently studying the amendments to the law -- especially the articles related to the penalties," El-Agati said in press statements.

The law, which mandates stiff penalties, including up to three years in prison and heavy fines for those who protest without a government permit, was passed in November 2013 during the turbulent period that followed the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The authorities have applied the law since it was first implemented to jail thousands of protesters, mostly supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group, but also hundreds of non-Islamist demonstrators.

Local and international critics say that the law infringes on the constitutional right of citizens to hold peaceful protests, including street demonstrations.

However, advocators of the law argue that it was necessary to put an end to recurrent protests and ensuing violence following the 2011 uprising and during Morsi's rule.

El-Agati noted that if the law is amended it could possibly be retrospectively applied to the people who were sentenced to jail, reducing the penalties against them.    

In the case that the amendments are passed by the cabinet, an official discussion by the parliament on the law would take place, marking the first time the House of Representatives, which convened in January 2016, reviews the legislation since it was passed in 2013.

The law was not among 340 pieces of legislation that was passed by the executive in the absence of a legislature and then revised by the current parliament as mandated by the 2014 constitution since it was issued before the charter was approved by the electorate.


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