Egypt’s cabinet introduced on Thursday legal amendments to toughen punishments for “terrorist” offenses and expanded the scope of crimes that fall under that category.
“The cabinet approved amendments to the penal code and the criminal procedure code to strengthen punishments for acts of terrorism,” a government statement said. More tribunals tracking terrorism-related cases would be set up, the statement added.
“The amendments have broadened the definition of terrorism,” justice minister Nayyer Abdelmoneim Othman told private satellite channel CBC Extra.
“They reflect what is happening now and take into consideration many things that have changed in the past three years,” Othman said, adding that there were some groups who were a “burden to the country’s security,” referring to Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The legal amendments were sent to interim President Adly Mansour to sign into law.
The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a “terrorist organization” after the authorities blamed it for several deadly bombings. It regularly calls for pro-Mursi protests which often descend into clashes with police or his opponents.
Tariq Khader, professor of constitutional law at the police academy, told Al Arabiya News that existing laws did not clearly tackle issues related to the funding of terrorism.
“There were many things that were not addressed before, such as ways to dry up sources of funding for terrorism. This had to be penned and punishments in terrorism crimes had to be tightened,” he said.
Journalist Ahmad al-Sawi said: “the constitution explicitly states the inadmissibility of the establishment of special courts and at the same time allows the president to issue interim proceedings.”
Egypt has been hit by a string of bombings and shootings targeting the security forces since the army ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi last July.
On Wednesday, a police general was killed and five policemen were wounded when three bombs exploded near Cairo University.
The government says militants have killed almost 500 people, mostly policemen and soldiers, in attacks since Mursi’s overthrow.
Most of the attacks have taken place in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, but the jihadists have increasingly targeted police in the capital and in the Nile Delta to its north.
“These amendments give the authorities power to pursue these crimes, detect them and firmly confront them,” Othman said.
The Brotherhood and Mursi supporters have been targeted in a deadly police crackdown since his ouster.
Amnesty International says that more than 1,400 people have been killed in clashes since the crackdown began last July.SHOW MORE