EGYPT: SISI OFFICIALLY APPROVES ANTI-TERRORIST LAW
|Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
February 24, 2015: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially signed the controversial anti-terrorism act, giving his government even greater powers with which to crush dissent.
The law, which critics say gives blanket power to authorities to crush any form of dissent, has attracted heavy condemnation from EgyptianÂ legal organisationsÂ and human rights bodies.
The law was initially drafted in 2014 and sent to interim president Adly Mansour to be approved back in April. Sisi won the presidential elections the following month, and in November, the cabinet ratified the law.
The final step in transforming the act into an official decree required the approval of the judicial advisory board, which approved it this year, before being signed by the president. Its ratification was all but seen as a foregone conclusion.
The authorities have long argued that the law is needed to fight terrorism and maintain public safety.
But critics insist that the law goes too far. Speaking in the wake of issuing the first draft, Amnesty Internationalâs Middle East and North Africa deputy directorÂ Hassiba Hadi SahraouiÂ said: âThis draft legislation also violates the right to free expression, undermines safeguards against torture and arbitrary detention, and expands the scope of application of the death penalty.â
Mohamed Zaree, the programme manager at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) told news websiteÂ Mada MasrÂ that the law is merely a cover-up for cracking down on terrorism, and aims to uphold the status quo at the expense of even peaceful dissent from civil society groups.
âIt is clear that the principal aim of this bill in its current form is not to counter terrorism, but rather to restrict such groups, movements and organisations from existing,â he said. âThis provision could easily be interpreted to punish individuals or organisations which call for constitutional or legal reforms, even if done peacefully.â (Sources: middleeasteye.net, 25/02/2015)