Egypt’s State Council on Monday approved the draft law on “terrorist entities”, which would allow for the dissolution of these entities and ending their activities.
The draft law was also approved by the cabinet in November.
Article 1 of the new law defines a terrorist entity as any group “practicing or intending to advocate by any means to disturb public order or endanger the safety of the community and its interests or risk its security or harm national unity”.
However, the law’s definition of a terrorist organisation expands to encompass groups that “occupy public or private buildings, and public facilities” or endorse “damage to the environment or natural materials”.
The State Council reviews and studies laws and if they are found to comply with the constitution, they are approved.
The draft law, however, must be considered by the president, as per Article 156 of the constitution, which states that the president has the power to issue laws by decree. These decrees must be “discussed and approved” by the House of Representatives “within 15 days from the date the new House convenes”.
The draft law would allow for “ending the activities” of the concerned group. It would also allow for the “closure of its assigned places and the prohibition of its meetings and the participation of individuals in any of it in any way, and the prohibition of financing or raising money or things of that entity whether directly or indirectly”. The assets of the group would also be frozen, and the group would be “temporarily deprived of the exercise of political rights”.
The law tasks the prosecution with creating a list with the names of terrorist entities and a list with the names of people in or associated with terrorist entities. This includes the names of the leaders, founders, members or participants of the group and can also extend to people who provide “information or support in any way” to the listed group.
Groups and individuals can appeal their listing through the Court of Cassation within 60 days of being listed. The court must consider the appeal within seven days of filing.
The draft law was criticised by local NGO, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) for its potential use to “silence civil society”.
The CIHRS considered the draft law “a violation of the constitution, the Supreme Court’s authority, as well as a contradiction to the international treaties Egypt has signed”, in a statement it issued on 3 December.
It filed a report, citing different reasons for rejecting the law and asking the government to “revise the law to be in alignment with the constitution”.
The CIHRS also raised doubts that the Egyptian government would use the law exclusively in support of the country’s efforts to counter armed militant groups.
The authorities would be obligated by the draft law to “notify the concerned” about the people and entities listed, as well as taking the “necessary measures to arrest them both domestically and abroad”.
The names of the groups and individuals must also be handed to countries party to anti-terrorism conventions, as per Article 10 of the law.