Egyptian Parliament (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's House of Representatives approved in principle on Sunday new government-drafted amendments to the Prisons Regulation Law (396/1956).
The parliament speaker said the amendment will be sent to the State Council to be revised in legal and constitutional terms, after which it will be put up for a final vote.
Bahaaeddin Abu Shoqa, the head of parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, told MPs that the amendment mainly aims to regulate the release of prisoners convicted of organising illegal public gatherings, terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Abu Shoqa indicated that MPs were keen to ensure the amendments are in line with Article 56 of the constitution, which states that prisons are places for rehabilitation and shall be subject to judiciary supervision, and where all actions inconsistent with human dignity or which endanger human health shall be prohibited.
"The law shall regulate the provisions of reform and rehabilitation of convicted persons and facilitate decent lives for them after their release," said Abu Shoqa, citing Article 56.
A seven-page report prepared by the House's legislative and constitutional affairs committee and the 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; and that they do not pose a threat to public security once released," said the report.
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.