Egypt’s legislature on Monday gave its initial approval for toughening up anti-terrorism laws, with amendments that include life sentences and capital punishment for funding terrorism, the state-run news agency said.
The sweeping anti-terrorism law was enacted in August 2015. Some charges, such as leading or organizing a terrorist group, carry the death penalty.
The original anti-terrorism law also included provisions to protect Egyptian security forces from prosecution, establish stiffer prison sentences for terror-related offences, as well as heavy fines for those who publish “false news” and a special judicial circuit for terrorism cases.
The new amendments expand the definition for the crime of funding terrorist acts. These would now include providing a place for training one terrorist or more; giving them weapons or documents in any way or form; offering support and financing in order to help terrorists travel, even if the provider does not have a direct link to the terrorist crime.
The amendments are being sent to Egypt's State Council for its review. A final parliamentary vote will likely then send it to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to ratify.
The amendments also tack on life sentences and the death penalty for a range of crimes related to funding terrorist attacks or terrorist-designated groups, said Bahaa Abu Shakq, head of the Parliament’s constitutional and legislative affairs committee.
The law already gives heavy prison sentences for crimes that include promoting or encouraging any “terrorist offense." These can extend to damaging state institutions or infrastructure, such as military or government buildings, power and gas lines, and archaeological sites.
Egypt has been fighting for years an insurgency centered in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula and led by a local affiliate of the ISIS group. Militant attacks have targeted the Egyptian military there and spilled out into the Nile Valley as well.