The House approved amended articles to the law on fighting irregular migration and human trafficking (Law 82/2016).
Speaker of Parliament Hanafy El-Gebaly said since all the amended articles were approved, he would put up the law as a whole for a final vote in a later session.
A report prepared by the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee said the amendments are meant to impose tougher penalties on irregular migration.
"Egypt is committed to fighting the phenomenon of irregular migration by toughening penalties and raising public awareness of the dangers of this crime," said the report, adding that "a national coordination committee was set up to implement the state's national strategy for fighting irregular migration (2016-2026)."
The report indicated that Article Six will be amended to toughen penalties on the crime of irregular migration by land, sea and air. The amended article states that "those who commit the crime of smuggling, or meditating in the smuggling of migrants, will be punished with strict prison and forced to pay a fine between EGP 200,000 and EGP 500,000, not to mention that they will be also forced to pay a fine equal to the value of the amount they profited from the irregular migration operation."
The report added that Article 15 now states "those who took note of irregular migration crimes and chose not to report them to authorities will be sentenced to one year in prison and forced to pay EGP 50,000-200,000 in fines." Public servants who fail in their assigned responsibilities fighting irregular migration will be sentenced to between three to five years in prison.
Article Seven states that "those who helped or facilitated the crime of irregular migration will be forced to pay between EGP one million (instead of EGP 200,000) and EGP five million (instead of EGP 500,000) in addition to a prison sentence."
The House's agenda on Tuesday also saw MPs giving final approval to the amendments to the prison regulation law (Law 396/1956).
El-Gebaly said the amendments are meant to reflect Egypt's new national strategy for human rights. "This strategy, which was declared by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi last September, aims to uphold the rule of law, respect the principle of citizenship, and reinforce equality and basic freedoms," said El-Gebaly, indicating that "the amendment of the prison regulation legislation is the first of laws to be modified to go in line with Egypt's 2021 national strategy for human rights and in a way that will promote the social, economic, political and cultural rights of all citizens."
Ibrahim El-Masry, deputy chairman of the House's National Security and Defence Committee, explained that the amendments seek to give greater care to prison inmates by rehabilitating them to be later integrated into society.
El-Masry said articles one, two, 31 and 81 will be amended to state that "freedom-restricting penalties will be served in rehabilitation centres – instead of prisons." The minister of interior will release an order listing the names of rehabilitation centres that will accommodate prisoners.
MPs also gave final approval to amendments to the agrarian reform law (Law 178/1952). The amended law opens the door for building national projects on land affiliated with the Agrarian Reform Authority. A parliamentary report said "the existing law does not make it possible to implement national projects – such as hospitals and schools – on lands owned by the Agrarian Reform Authority, and so the law was amended to make this possible."
Meanwhile, the House passed one foreign agreement on Tuesday. It gives the green light for Egypt to contribute $3 million in financial allocation to the International Fund on Agricultural Development (IFAD).
El-Gebaly said the House's next plenary sessions will be held on 29 March.