Differences on the Issuance of Anti Terrorism Law

March 19th, 2009 by Editor


At a seminar entitled” The new terrorism law, fears and expectations” which was held by EOHR on Wednesday 18/3/2009 at Pyramiza hotel –Dokki, Giza, participants disagreed on the need to a new law for terrorism or not, some saw that there are adequate laws and legislations to confront terrorist crime and question  perpetrators including Law No. 97 of 1992, while others saw that there is a need to pass a new law to combat terrorism in the light of terrorist  attacks on the regional and international levels.




 Representatives of political parties, law professors, writers and human rights activists agreed on the necessary to carry out a community discussion on the proposed law for terrorism and the need to achieve the adaptation between terrorism combating and the protection for human rights.



Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, secretary general of EOHR, clarified  that the Egyptian legislative arsenal teem with many laws which question those who committed terrorist deeds , among these laws is Law No. 10 of 1914 concerning illegal assembly, Law No. 14 of 1923 on public meetings and demonstrations and Minister of Interior’s decision No. 139  of 1955 besides, what has been mentioned in the Penal Code such as:



– The deliberate destruction of buildings or public property ( movable or immovable properties )or governmental documents, statements or plants.


– Attacking persons using violence, force and threat.


– The deliberate destruction for the governmental buildings and public utilities to through chaos and terrors among people. 


Abu Seada confirmed that Egypt is obliged to offer its periodical report on human rights situation before the international human rights council next year. He pointed out that there are recommendations issued by United Nations Human Rights Committee – before it becomes a council – stressing the need to end the state of emergency.



The secretary general condemned the non- declaration of the new anti terrorism law to the public opinion , he wondered : Is the judicial control in this proposed law will be prior or subsequent for the terrorist crime. He confirmed that if the judicial control will be subsequent to the terrorist crime , the law will affect human rights negatively.


Abu Seada calls for the necessary for Egypt to get rid of the state of emergency in order to be recorded in the history of human rights as a leader and pioneer in the region as it was in the sixties.



Judge. Mohamed Al Dkroury, head of the committee of values and legal affairs in Democratic National Party (DNP) confirmed that the party finished preparing a bill for terrorism combating. He pointed out that the reason for the postponement of issuing it and the non- submission to the People’s Assembly till now is reviewing and revising it more than onetime in order to create a balance between citizens freedoms and terrorism combating.  



Al Dakroury indicated that the judicial control according to the law will be temporary a subsequent or contemporaneous, saying, “If the authorities were informed with a detonation in Al -Azhar mosque .. Is it required to obtain prior permission to face the crime”. He confirmed that we need a new law for terrorism as the current  Penal Code has articles and provisions that convict terrorism , however they are not enough and the Egyptian legislation lacks such measures to combat terrorism and prevent terrorist crime and avoid it.


Dr. Ali Al Din Helal, secretary of media committee in Democratic National Party, confirmed that terrorism is a political and moral crime , as it contradicts in its core with the simplest principles of human rights, namely, the right to life, so it is important to enact a new law for terrorism , he pointed out that there are 79 states reconsidered the laws related to terrorism after 2001 including Britain, Sweden, Norway, Germany and France.


 Helal called for stopping the state of emergency as he confirmed that we live in an exceptional case , however the state of emergency is related  only to war or martial laws. So the continuation of it means that there are an exceptional and abnormal  issues in the country. He indicated that we are in a short need to issue a new law to terrorism especially after the emergence of the concept of international cooperation to combat terrorism, adding that Egypt has signed almost 13 international conventions related to terrorism combating among 16 other conventions. In addition . Egypt has to merge all these conventions in its national legislations or in one law in particular that these conventions are obliged to exchange information and cooperate to discover facts and deliver culprits to trial.     



Mr. Abullah Kamal, editor in chief of Rose Al Youssef  newspaper, agreed with the last two opinions and confirmed that we are in a short need of a new law for terrorism and this is clear as nearly 79 countries have to enact a legislation to combat terrorism. There are 40 countries have been guided by the guidelines issued by the united nations.



Kamal added that the new terrorism law should include 4 main points concerning the general structure as follows:


First: The bill should include all objective and procedural  provisions which require the need to pass the rules provided in the law of criminal procedures. 


Second: The bill should include measures to prevent terrorist crime to respond to the obligations imposed by international conventions and covenants and provisions of international criminal cooperation in addressing the phenomenon of terrorism.


Third: To take into consideration when preparing the bill the precedent of terrorism phenomenon forms in the field of terrorist deeds in the light of the results of the international, regional and local images of terrorist activities.


Fourth: Responding to the modern trends in the  concerned conventions and international covenants.



Dr. Mahmoud Kebish, vice dean of faculty of law – Cairo university, emphasized that it is important to protect  individual freedoms as it is not less significant than the protection of stability in society, and therefore there must be a balance between these two goals. 


Kebish stressed that we face unclear bill so far it is assumed that we are at such an important legislation, it should be discussed among collective participations for telling opinion in it.


 As for his part, Mr. Saad Hagras, vice editor of Al Gomhoria newspaper for studying and combating terrorism, agreed with kebish as he strongly criticized the secrecy of the new bill and not stipulate it to the public discussion the matter which bred the feelings of suspicion and doubt to citizens.  He pointed out that we don’t need a new terrorism law , we have already Law No. 79 of 1992.


Mr. Abu Al Ezz Al Hariry , former member of People’s Assembly, confirmed that  the problem is not the presence of anti-terrorism law or not, but the problem stems from the economic crisis, high unemployment and extreme poverty, which spread in the body of Egypt, and the low level of civil and legal rights. He called for accelerating the steps towards political and legal reform.


Mr. Abdul rahman Khair, member of Shura council,  agreed with his opinion and confirmed that the problem is not to enact a new law for terrorism, however it is crystallized in the problems in the Egyptian society as a result to the absence of democracy and the lack of devolution and extreme poverty in the Egyptian society.


Dr. Abdullah Al Ash’al, professor of law, agreed with their opinions and confirmed that we are not in a short need to a new law for terrorism as far as we need to solve the problems existed in the Egyptian society.


Mr. Bahy Al Din Hassan, director of Cairo institute for human rights studies, agreed with Al Ash’l  opinion and confirmed that we don’t need a new law for terrorism as we have several legislations, besides Emergency law and law No. 97 of 1992 which includes many elastic expressions and restrictions.


 Hassan indicated that the organized terrorist actions has ended since Luxor incident 1997 and the release of thousands of detainees, random terrorist actions including Taba incident 2004 , Sharm Al Sheikh 2005 Dahab 2006 Al Azhar then AL Hussein 2009.At the end of his speech , he called for amending the security organization and support its professional qualification.      



Major General. Fouad Alam, security expert, confirmed  the necessary for enacting a new law for terrorism in the light of the increasing and exacerbated terrorist attacks, pointing out that terrorism is not in Egypt alone, but in many parts of the world. He warned that   perpetrators of the last attacks are still in the process of formation the matter which requires the quick confrontation. He called the security to put the bill for public discussion.


Mr. Essam Shiha, member of Al Wafd party, called for taking into account in the bill of new terrorism the legal and judicial rights of suspects of armed violence, also the standards of fair trial stated by Article 14 of the internationmal covenant on civil and political rights.


Mr. Hussein Abdul Razik, former secretary general of Al Tagamou Party, confirmed that there is only one permanent law namely Law No. 97 of 1992 issued by president Mubarak in 1992. According to this law, several articles were added and amended in the Penal Code, law of criminal procedures is amended accordingly and others different laws. He assured that all constitutional and law professors, parties, political and democratic forces and human rights organizations see that Emergency law is the worst martial law in the world. According to this law, all personal and public freedoms and human rights and borders between authorities are broken down.


Abdul Razik condemned Article 179 of the Constitution as he regarded it as negative and dangerous addition which violates the public freedoms and human rights. It doesn’t satisfy with giving the legislator the right to dissolute from the judicial order stipulated by Article 41 of the constitution , so it is legal to arrest, detain, and restrict freedoms by any mean, also it gives the right to the reasoned dissolution from the judicial order stated by articles 44 and 45 so as it is legal to enter and inspect houses and access to postal and telegraphic correspondences.


Mr. Ahmed Abdul Hafiz, lawyer in the cassation court,  confirmed that violence exits from ancient times ,successive political, social and economical situations make this violence as fixed phenomenon. He pointed out that the terrorist phenomenon is a political phenomenon and the attempt to handle it  will lead to limit it in its normal criminal aspects.


Mr. Mahmoud Murad, journalist, clarified that there is a difference in meaning between violence and terrorism . Terrorism stipulates an external supportive bodies. As for the internal actions which affects the security of the state, it was provided in the penal code and criminal procedures law.


Murad supported the idea of issuing a new law for terrorism under the condition that it doesn’t affect negatively the freedom of opinion and expression and   the right to demonstration. Also this bill should be  subjected to a free discussion including  all aspects of society.



At the end of the workshop, participants unanimously condemned the terrorist blast as it is considered a grave violation against the right to life which was guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and the international covenants concerned with human rights the matter which requires to strengthen  the authorities to strict security procedures and trace perpetrators of the bombings and bring them to justice, but at the same time  there is no necessary to  expand  arbitrary arrests of citizens without charge, or to torture suspects, because such a strategy will lead to only enter the country in a wave of violence and counter-violence.     


Participants recommended the following:


1- It is not necessary to speed up the issuance of anti terrorism law, the Egyptian legislation is not in need of a new law to combat terrorism as there is already an existing law, namely : law No. 97 /1992.


However, if the government wanted to issue a new law to combat terrorism, it should primarily depends  on achieving  a balance between human rights protection and terrorism combating and the fair trial standards provided  by Article (14) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


These standards are represented in the following:


1) Equality before the judiciary.
2) Publicity of trial.
3) The independence and impartiality of the courts.
4) The presumption of innocence.
5) Providing time and facilities to prepare a defense
6) The publicity of issued verdicts.
7) granting the accused the right to call witnesses for the defense with  the same conditions of prosecution witnesses.

8) The right to appeal against the issued decisions before a higher court. 


In the same time, the government should abide by the declaration of Berlin issued in August 2004, which includes several commitments imposed on the country to protect human rights in the course of combating terrorism , the implement of Security Council resolution No. 4561 ( 2003) and 11624 ( 2005) and the UN General Assembly Resolutions No.57/219 , 58/187 and 59/191 which provided that” Combating terrorism is a legitimated right for each state”. However, terrorism combating should be carried out in the frame of respecting human rights and that any  deprivation from the freedom must be consistent with the rules of the international law. Despite that  the Security Council and the UN general Assembly admitted the importance of terrorism combating, they remind with the state’s commitments to respect all procedures to combat terrorism in accordance with the international law particularly the international instruments related to  human rights, refugees and humanitarian law”.


2- Reviewing Article(179)of the Constitution as it will legalize the state of emergency to be a constitutional state the matter which leads to violate rights and basic freedoms which is inconsistent with the Constitution which must be free from of any provisions that detract the protection specified for human rights.


3-  The state of emergency may be declared in the case of actual war and disasters for a limited period under accurate conditions and real monitoring of the legislative power.  


4 – Establishing and strengthen democratic values and principles of human rights in the Egyptian society and the release of public freedoms and eliminating  restrictions imposed on political and partisan work to deepen the democratic practice. Also releasing the freedom of civil society organizations and to free them from imposed restrictions in order to support the values of political participation and public freedoms.


5- The Egyptian government has to ratify all mechanisms concerned with human rights and international instruments concerned with terrorism combating including the alternative protocol related to the convention against torture.



It is noteworthy that the workshop was held in the framework of the “Observatory for combating terrorism through supporting democracy “which started its activity in February 2008 with the support of European union. The basic goal of the Observatory is the support of democratic development in Egypt, through monitoring and controlling of the impact of the inclusion of terrorism combating articles  in the constitutional amendments of this development on one hand, and the impact of  terrorism law  on this development as well, and how to achieve the balance between combating terrorism and protecting human rights.







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