House approves 3 laws on protecting public establishments, defence secrets and terrorism

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 31 Oct 2021

Egypt's parliament approved on Sunday amendments to Law (136/2014) which will entrust the Armed Forces with helping police to safeguard public and vital establishments such as electricity stations and grids, and gas and oil pipelines on a permanent basis.

Egyptian House of Representatives. File photo

The two-article law states that the Armed Forces and police shall fully coordinate on safeguarding and protecting public and vital establishments, including gas pipelines and stations, oil fields, railway tracks, roads and bridges, public utilities and property.

Article Two of the law states that those accused of attacking public and vital establishments will be referred to military courts.

Mamdouh Shain, assistant to Minister of Defence for constitutional and legal affairs, explained the changes, indicating that "civilians will face trial before military courts only if they attack public and vital establishments such as the radio and television buildings and the House of Representatives building."

"Let me indicate that not all establishments and buildings are public or vital, and so we have issued decrees indicating in detail the list of the names of public and vital establishments which will be protected and safeguarded by the armed forces," said Shahin.

The House also approved an amendment to Article 80 of the penal code to toughen penalties on those who commit the crime of leaking state defence secrets.

The new amendment stipulates that "those convicted of this kind of crimes will face a prison sentence ranging from six months to five years and a fine ranging from EGP 5,000 to EGP 50,000 (instead of a current fine ranging from EGP 100 to EGP 500)."

Ibrahim El-Heneidi, the chairman of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the above amendment is in line with Articles 59, 86, and 200 of the constitution, which entrust the state with taking all necessary measures to preserve national security against foreign infiltration.

The House also approved new amendments to two articles of Law (94/2005), which give authorities greater flexibility to combat terrorism.

El-Heneidi explained that "the amended Article 53 states that in case of a terrorism causing environmental disaster, the president of the republic shall take the measures necessary to preserve security and public order, such as evacuating or isolating some areas or imposing curfew on them. The president's decision in this respect will specify the authorities which will be in charge of implementing the necessary measures."

Article 36 will be also amended to stipulate that filming, recording, and broadcasting terrorism trials will only be allowed with permission from the presiding judge, and that violators shall be fined between EGP 100,000 and EGP 300,000.

Heneidi said a new article – Article 22 – will be also added to the law to state that those who will violate any of the above measures shall face a prison sentence and a fine ranging from EGP 20,000 and EGP 50,000.

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