Several parliamentary committees have announced their agendas scheduled during the fourth legislative round, which started last week, in accordance to the presidential decree.
The Egyptian Parliament is required to finalise several pending issues since the first round, as there are various laws that are expected to be either discussed, or amended.
Among the top regulations listed at the top of the parliament’s agenda are municipality laws, criminal procedures, parties, insurance, pensions, unified construction, old rents, combating illiteracy, and reducing the population increase.
The constitutional and legislative affairs committee, headed by Baha Abo Shoqa, declared that the criminal procedures law is a priority, which should be tackled at the beginning of the current round, particularly since the drafting of the law was completed as of the third round, but was postponed due to time constraints.
Abo Shoqa said that citizens will be granted unprecedented freedom, through the new law, which comes in accordance with the constitution, explaining that the new law will deal, for the first time in history, with defendants as innocent, until proven guilty.
He also added that there will be a guarantee provided for the accused and lawyer, starting from the time of evidence collection, and information related to the investigation stage, until an alternative for pre-trial detention is found instead, up to the completion of the investigation.
Abo Shoqa explained that they are looking forward to making the pre-trial detention a punishable decision, only permitted for certain conditions, and not to be used repeatedly without justification.
For the first time, we decided to organise the travel ban issue according to the constitution, which grants freedom of movement to all citizens, and we also decided to abolish absentee sentences, to ensure the defendant’s right of being informed about his legal situation, he also noted.
Also, among the committee’s agenda is the personal status law, which was already presented during the third round, but is still awaiting the recommendations of Al-Azhar, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), and the National Council for Human Rights.
Abo Shoqa concluded that committee is also working on activating all the constitutional articles related to the citizen’s rights, and public freedoms in terms of a law.
The head of the human rights committee, Alaa Abed, said that their plan is focusing on drafting a bill, to help compensate all those whose innocence was proven after facing a long pre-trial detention period, and instead assigning another penalty for suspects.
The law stipulates that defendants should not exceed a two year pre-trial detention period, however, throughout recent years, several prisoners were held in pre-trial detention, for over three years as punition, until the court referral date.
He also said that the committee is planning to propose a legislation aiming to combat all forms of violence practised against women, and to draft another bill for debtors to find alternative penalties for them, instead of imprisonment, in the event they are incapable of paying their debts.
Abed added that the committee is expected to launch a special rights and freedoms observatory, to monitor the human rights situation in Egypt, and deal with any citizen who faces any violation.
We will organise field visits to prisons, orphanages, and police stations in various nation governorates, said Abed, concluding that the committee has a scheduled visit to one of the provinces before the plenary session of 21 October.
Foreign affairs, Media and Tourism
The foreign affairs committee will review the most important recommendations declared during the previous round for application, and is scheduled to set an agenda for visits expected during the fourth round to foreign countries, to benefit from the expertise of foreign parliaments, and to clarify Egypt’s war against terrorism.
Meanwhile, the media and culture committee will follow-up the implementation of the articles of recent laws issued to regulate the media, and press in Egypt. The parliament has approved three long-awaited laws regulating the work of the Supreme Media Council, the National Press Authority, and the National Media Authority, during the previous round, following a long session of discussions, and meetings.
Tourism and civil aviation committee deputy, Amr Sedki, said that they are supposed to start discussing a draft law to regulate the well-being of tourism in Egypt, which he previously submitted to parliament, covering both the medical and tourism angles.
The committee will also check pending laws, such as the unified tourism law, and will coordinate with the communications and information technology committee, in order to limit electronic tourism problems such as cybercrime, he also added.
Population and Education
Among the parliament’s priorities as well, this round is attempting to find a sound solution to limit the increase in population growth, which has been categorised as one of the top challenges facing the country.
Defence and national security committee member, Mohamed Kassab, said the committee is studying the draft of a legislation, which includes positive incentives to control the problem of the population explosion, which will include exempting “optimal” families from taxes, and supporting them with products, funding their children’s’ education, as well as granting other medical and social care services.
As for the education committee, it is still waiting to receive the general education law as well as the universities’ law from the government in order to start its discussions.
Population and housing committee member, Ahmed Abdel Aziz, said that the committee has four rulings on its agenda for this round, which include laws for unified construction, building violation reconciliation,, old rents, and the sewage authority.
The unified building law, which aims to eliminate random construction, was already drafted by a number of government members during the second round, but has been postponed.
Transportation and Communication
Priorities of the transportation and communication committee’s fourth round are to follow-up on the development of the Railway Authority, the maintenance of old tractors, the supply of new tractors, to the new metro lines.
The committee also follows-up on the port development plan, due to its important objectives concerning the national economy. It will also complete its internal navigation law of the Nile River, and follow-up on the implementation of the steps related to the National Roads Project.
Moreover, the committee will also check into the execution of the road linking Egypt to Sudan, as proposed in the recommendations issued by the government’s statement.
Regarding the communication committee, the personal data protection law is at the forefront of the agenda. Several committee members stressed that the law is a high priority in view of its special importance in preserving the rights, and privacy, of citizens from being violated by some companies. The committee also will continue to work on cybercrime, and laws to dispute rumours.
The new round marks the one before the last for this parliamentary term. The third legislative round ended by the end of July. The last session was on 26 July ,when the parliament granted confidence to the new government declared for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s second term.
During the third round, a total of 111 laws were approved, including statutes for comprehensive health insurance, persons with disabilities, trade and labour unions, the electricity sector as well as other bills for consumer, and antiquities’ protection.
Hundreds of laws have been passed since the parliament was established in 2016, some of which were the subject of public objection on both the economic and political levels, including media, and social media laws. Other legislations came amid major economic reform policies implemented by the state.
The parliament is the country’s legislative authority which issues rules and regulations for state entities to work under, in accordance with the constitution. The state’s most significant and serious decisions are always forwarded by the cabinet to the parliament, for discussion and debate, before the president’s ratifications.