Justice Ministry to review anti-terrorism bills
Bombing in Mansoura

Two controversial counter-terrorism bills are scheduled for review by the Justice Ministry, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday.

In addition to the judicial review, the interim government hopes to initiate greater social dialogue around the draft laws before finalizing them, according to president’s constitutional advisor, Ali Awad Saleh.

The Cabinet has already received the State Council’s approval on the bills, but would also take into account any suggestions arising from a dialogue between diverse political forces when issuing the final drafts, he said.

The draft laws have not been circulated publically. However, in March the bills were leaked, eliciting condemnation from some analysts for their ambiguous language and potentially wide appliation.

According to the leaked document, the law would impose a life sentence or death penalty on anyone found guilty of establishing a terrorist organization, or holding a leadership position in such an organization.

A terrorist organization was defined in the bill as a group composed of at least three people that aims to “conduct one or more than one terrorist crime,” while a terrorist was defined as a person who commits, or attempts to commit, a terrorist act either directly or indirectly.

A terrorist act was broadly defined as any use of violence, power, threat or terror that would disrupt public security, threaten society’s general wellbeing or cause damage to the environment, natural resources, monuments, public and private properties, or hinder communications or the economy.

A terrorist act could also encompass an act that prevents the authorities, governmental organizations, local municipalities, diplomatic missions and international organizations from conducting their work.

All funds or equipment belonging to a designated terrorist group would be confiscated by the state under the proposed law, whereupon the group would be dissolved and its headquarters would be shut down. Any financial activities that helped to fund the organization would also be suspended.

A person found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organization, but not holding a leadership position, would be subject to time in prison. If the individual was judged to have received technical, security or military training from the terrorist group, the prison sentence could be up to 10 years.

The draft also imposed strict measures to monitor cyberspace, including social networking websites, for any suspicious “terrorist activities.”

On Monday morning, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters declared Ansar Beit al-Maqdes — a Sinai-based militant group that has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly bombings in recent months — a terrorist organization, about a week after the United States Department of State had issued the same designation.

Last December, the government also designated the ousted Muslim Brotherhood group as a terrorist group, and ordered the suspension of all the Brotherhood’s activities as well as the activities of more than 1,000 NGOs that are said to have links to the banned organization.


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