Alarming Amendments on Terrorism Laws: Towards further legalization of exceptional circumstances in the name of the war on terror
Less than a month passed since the Egyptian government presented its draft of amending both the Anti-Terrorism Law 94/2015 and the Terrorist Entities Law 8/2018 to the House of Representatives. The House approved the majority of amendments to the two projects on February 24, 2020, without any form of societal debate regarding them, implying the council’s haste and lack of careful consideration of the eight amendments and the substantive additions that have occurred to the two laws. That comes in the framework of a broad ongoing process by the Egyptian authorities since July 2013 to legalize exceptional situations and legitimize the infringement of private rights, freedoms and property under the slogan of combating terrorism. The amendments included adding expanded formulations on the definition of terrorist entities and their financing, in addition to tightening the effects resulting from being included in the lists of terrorist entities and terrorists. The amendments to the two laws are supposed to be issued, as soon as Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Republic, ratifies them.
The approved amendments enclosed in the Terrorist Entities Law 8/2015, which is a temporary precautionary law that is in effect in duration between the arrest and the sentence, are to include additional terrorist entities such as companies and unions, stretching the impact of expanding the lists of terrorist entities. The parliament rejected the amendments related to declaring media organizations as terrorist entities, with the aim of avoiding international criticism and avoiding hints of unconstitutionality.
Although the parliament refused to approve some of the draft amendments to Article (1) of the law which stipulates the probability of considering media organizations as terrorist entities, it has agreed to add companies, unions or other entities of equivalence, to the list of entities that can be considered terrorist entity, adding associations, organizations or groups as well to the list. Whereas, the section specifying the funds that are used in terrorist financing has been added in the same article , includes provisions similar to the amendments made to the same section that defining what funds are in Article (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Law.
Also, a number of critical amendments have been added to Article (7) with regard to the effects of the inscription of persons on lists of terrorist entities or as terrorists, as it appears at first glance that the project targeted certain persons. In addition to the manifestation of the desire to overcome judicial obstacles by omitting the sentences “Whenever the money is used in the practice of terrorism,” which was explained by a source in the Court of Cassation to Mada Masr website in his vision of this text which entails that the cassation court is used to repealing the provisions of inscribing defendants on terrorist lists and consequently freezing their money based on investigations solely held by the National security, which can be passed now without requiring proof of terrorist activity.
Not only that, the draft law provides – in the same article – adding new implications for being inscribed on terrorist lists, adding freezing funds or assets owned by a person whether completely or incompletely, and prohibiting his practice of private activities or collecting money or donations for him, and even ending his membership in unions or companies and semi-governmental associations, and even clubs and sports federations, and the amendment also adds the prohibition of transferring or receiving any money.
Finally, these amendments raise a number of questions, for instance, are the authorities working to replace exceptional laws such as terrorism laws instead of penal laws and criminal procedures? Also, the process of rescinding some items of the amendments’ provision that stipulate the prerequisite of committing or practicing a terrorist act opens the door wide for the imposition of penalties and registering persons and entities on the terrorist list, as well as the confiscation of their money according to the desires of the security services and their vision only with the availability of the principle of intent which leads to the violation of the rights and freedoms of a wider range of people .
The Egyptian Front believes that these amendments come as a form of adding even more restrictions to the terrorism laws that already restrict rights and freedoms in the first place. These laws have been issued by the current president in 2015 in the absence of parliament under the slogan of the state’s war on terror. On the other hand, the Egyptian Front believes that these amendments show the authorities ’endeavor to create new legal situations with which they aim to overcome procedural and judicial problems related to the point of financing what it considers terrorism in the context of this war, whichone of the representatives of Parliament has described as “amendments that aim to provide all legislative mechanisms to enable the state in its war against terrorism.” However, in reality, these amendments aim to enable the state to engage in the violation of more rights, freedoms and private property of individuals that are protected by the constitution and the law, while simltinously stretching the accusations of terrorism against a large number of entities and persons in relation to exercising their rights to organize, assemble and express their opinions.
Articles of the Terrorist Entities Law 8 /2015 after the amendments (Underlining the added articles)
The Terrorist entity: Associations, organizations, groups, gangs, cells, companies, unions or other entities or the like, whatever their legal or realistic form, whenever they practice or intend to advocate by any means inside or outside the country to harm individuals or spreading terror among them or endangering their lives, freedoms, rights, or security … … This applies to the aforementioned entities and persons whenever they practice or target or have their purpose to carry out any of those actions even if they were not directed at the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Funds or assets: all financial assets and economic resources, including oil, other natural resources and property of whatever kind, whether tangible or intangible, movable or fixed, whatever the means of obtaining them, documents and legal tools, national or foreign currencies, financial or commercial securities, and proven instruments and papers For all the above, in whatever form, including the digital or electronic form, and all rights related to any of them, including bank credit, travellers checks, bank checks and documentary credits, and any interest, profits, or other sources of income arising from or generated by these funds or assets, or any other assets that have been or may be used to obtain financing, products or services.
Concerned parties and the Public Prosecution may appeal the decision issued in the matter of inscriping persons and entities on the two lists referred to within sixty days from the date of publication of the decision before the Criminal Circuit of the Court of Cassation that is determined by the General Assembly annually for the court, in accordance with the usual procedures for appeal.
The concerned parties may include in the appeal a request to allow the exclusion of some amounts of funds or other assets frozen to fulfill their requirements of expenses required for the purchase of food items, rent, medicines, medical treatment, or other expenses.
Publishing the Inscription of Persons and Entities to Terrorism Law entails the following impact by the force of law, and throughout its duration, unless the provision stipulated in Article 3 of this law decides otherwise:
First: Regarding Terrorist Entities:
1- Banning the terrorist entity, and suspending its activities.
2- Closing the places designated for him and prohibiting its meetings.
3- Prohibition of financing or collecting funds or effects for the entity, whether directly or indirectly.
4- Freezing funds or other assets owned by the entity, or by its members (omitting: when they are used in the practice of terrorist activity), whether they are fully owned by the entity or are in the form of a share in a joint ownership, as well as the revenues generated from it, or that the entity controls directly or indirectly, in addition to money or other assets belonging to people and entities that work through it.
5- Prohibition of joining the entity, advocating for it, promoting it, or raising its slogans.
Second: Regarding terrorists:
1- Inclusion on travel ban lists and anticipation of arrival, or banning a foreigner from entering the country.
2- Withdrawing or cancelling the passport, or preventing its issuance or renewal.
3 – Loss of the condition of good reputation and conduct necessary to assume public, representative or local jobs and positions, and suspension of service in government jobs.
4- Not being appointed or contracted in public jobs or public sector companies or the public business sector, as the case may be.
5- Suspension from work with half of the wage paid.
6- Freezing (omitting: the terrorist’s funds when used in the exercise of his terrorist activity) the funds or other assets owned by the terrorist, either completely or in the form of a share in joint ownership, the revenues generated from it or that which he controls directly or indirectly, and the money or other assets of the persons and entities who work through it.
7- Banning the practice of all civil or advocacy activities under any name.
8- Prohibition of financing or collecting funds or terrorist objects, whether directly or indirectly, and the prohibition of receiving or transferring funds, as well as other similar financial services.
9 – Stopping membership in professional unions, boards of directors of companies, societies, institutions, any entity in which the state or citizens contribute a certain share, the boards of directors of clubs and sports federations, and any entity designated for the public benefit
All state authorities, entities, bodies and agencies, each within the limits of their competence, are obligated to implement and enforce the aforementioned effects, and to inform the concerned authorities locally and abroad to implement the effects of being inscribed on either of the two lists.
In the field of combating activities of terrorists and their entities, the judicial authorities and the Egyptian bodies concerned with terrorism affairs – each within the limits of their jurisdiction and in coordination with them – cooperate with their foreign counterparts through the exchange of information, aid, judicial assignments, handing over of persons and things, recovery of money and the transfer of convicts, as well as notifying states and organizations concerned with the decisions referred to in this law, and other forms of judicial and information cooperation, all in accordance with the rules established by the international agreements applicable in Egypt, or according to the principle of reciprocity.
If the matter relates to requests for international cooperation with another country in the field of implementing the procedures specified in accordance with the mechanisms for freezing funds or other assets, the largest possible amount of information regarding the identification of the listed persons or entities and information supporting the listing application must be provided.