Local rights groups condemned on Friday Law 8/2015, which regulates terrorist and terrorism lists, stating that under the broad definition of “terrorism,” human rights defenders, political parties, groups, developmental organizations and other individuals ” may be easily labeled as “terrorists.”
The groups added in a statement that the law “undermines the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom to form civic associations and political parties, and freedom of the press, opinion, and expression.”
The signatory groups include The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, El-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture, and others.
The law was issued by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who holds all executive and legislative authority. The law, as it is written, can target any individual, regardless of whether the individual belongs to an entity or not.
Thousands of people, often protesters, have been arrested over the past two years on terrorism charges, and are often accused of belonging to terrorist organisations.
Article 1 of the law contains “undefined terms,” as well as ambiguous legal provisions, the groups said. The law includes as terrorists those caught “infringing the public order, endangering the safety, interests, or security of society, obstructing provisions of the constitution and law, or harming national unity, social peace, or national security.”
Authorities can therefore “interpret these provisions to serve their own interests,” the statement read. In addition, individuals engaging in acts “the purpose of which is advocating [for these acts] by any means,” can also be designated as terrorists.
This phrase, the organizations said, could cover any statements, protests, reports, or newspaper if they allegedly infringe on “public order or social peace,” and thus peaceful methods of opposing the regime can also be defined as “terrorism.”
In addition, the law was not issued with an explanatory memorandum, the groups added that this was “intended to further obscure its provisions and the limits of its application, allowing any person who crosses the authorities to potentially come under the sway of the law.”
The statement concluded by pointing to the unlikelihood that this law will put an end to the crimes and attacks of militant groups, adding that what Egypt needs in a “thorough review of its arsenal of laws.”
The law, among others, only narrows the political and public spheres, the groups said.