CAIRO: Proposed amendments introduced to the Egyptian Penal Code will toughen penalties for sexual offences, Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei was quoted as saying by official news portal egynews.net.
The amendments are aimed at combating the spread of sexual violence, egynews reports, and will be discussed by cabinet in the coming days.
Under the amendments, defendants convicted of rape will face the possibility of receiving the death sentence. Those found guilty of the kidnapping of a minor face the prospect of maximum security prison, increased to the death penalty where a sexual assault occurs.
The prison sentence for sexual harassment, meanwhile, will be increased from a maximum of one to two years, and includes harassment carried out via the internet or telephone.
The amendments will also restrict application of Article 17 of the Penal Code which gives judges discretionary, “amnesty powers to reduce the punishment laid down for a crime where they decide that the circumstances of the crime justify the perpetrators’ actions.
Under the proposed amendments, judges will only be permitted to reduce the penalty handed down in rape cases from the death sentence to life imprisonment.
The justice minister is quoted as saying that the amendments are necessary to challenge the spread of increased incidents of sexual assault against women, and the inability of the current legislation to tackle these incidents.
Hafez Abu Saeda, secretary general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), suggested that there is a “misunderstanding in the egynews report because “the death penalty was recently applied for rape against nine men convicted of abduction and rape in Kafr El-Sheikh.
Abu Saeda says, however, that he is “personally against the death sentence.
“I don’t believe it constitutes an effective deterrence. Life imprisonment sentences are enough, Abu Saeda told Daily News Egypt.
Abu Saeda described not applying amnesty powers as a “good approach, saying that by reducing punishments to a fine, judges “completely do away with the deterrence factor of the punishment.