The Senate – Egypt's consultative upper house – finally approved in a plenary meeting on Sunday a legislative amendment aimed at toughening up penalties for bullying crimes against physically-challenged individuals.
Abdel-Moneim Al-Assar, Chairman of the Senate's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the legislative amendment, drafted by MP Mohamed El-Sallab, goes in line with the constitution's articles 8, 53, 80 and 81.
"All of these articles indicate that the state shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and educational rights of physically-challenged individuals, making sure they exercise their political rights and be integrated into society in compliance with principles of equality and justice," said Al-Assar.
According to Al-Assar, to achieve the above objective the bill aims to toughen up penalties to protect physically-challenged individuals from bullying crimes which have increased in Egypt in the recent years.
"The bill, an amendment to the law regulating the rights of the physically-challenged individuals (law 10/2018), states that a person convicted of bullying a physically-challenged individual would face a minimum penalty of one year in prison and a fine ranging from EGP 50,000 to EGP 100,000," said Al-Assar, adding that "if two people or more were found guilty of bullying a physically-challenged individual, each would face two years in prison and a fine ranging from EGP 100,000 to EGP 200,000."
Hossam El-Khouli, the Sokesperson of the Parliamentary Group of the Mostaqbal Watan party in the Senate, said the above penalties need to be more stiffened to stem the tide of bullying crimes.
As a result, the Senate approved that the law be amended so that a person convicted of bullying a physically-challenged individual would face two years in prison and a fine ranging from EGP 50,000 to EGP 100,000.
Meanwhile, the Senate also provisionally approved another legislative amendment aimed at setting up a charitable Waqf fund with the objective of implementing development projects, improving the lives of citizens in slum areas and fighting the phenomenon of street children.
The Senate's Deputy Speaker Bahaa Abu Shoqa said the above legislative amendment goes in line with Article 90 of the constitution, which says the State shall support setting up a charitable Waqf (endowment) system, with the objective of sponsoring scientific, cultural, health and social activities.
Senator Gamil Halim said the proposed charitable Waqf fund will be devoted to disseminating the moderate message of Islam, helping the state set up service and development projects, contributing to establishing infrastructure projects, improving slum areas and abolishing the phenomenon of street children.
"These objectives generally aim to boost the development objectives of the state," said Halim.
A report prepared by the Waqf's Committee along with the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee said that the charitable fund will be affiliated with the prime minister's office that is located in Cairo and regulated to have branches in all of Egypt's governorates.
Also, according to the report, the proposed fund's money will come from donations, investments and the returns on Waqf projects at the end of each fiscal year. The fund's money, supervised by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), will be exempt from all kinds of taxes and fees.
The fund's board will be chaired by the prime minister and includes the minister of waqfs as board deputy chairman, four economic experts, three Waqf ministry officials, a judicial member and a financial expert.
The board will be tasked with investing the fund's money in an efficient way, approving its draft budget and balance sheet as well as reviewing the periodical reports on its activities.