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Egypt imposes strict anti-terrorism laws

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Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws to fight growing insurgency in the country, a media report said on Monday.

The laws establish special courts and offer additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who have used force. They also impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group, BBC reported.

Under the new laws being introduced on Monday trials for suspected militants will be fast-tracked through special courts. Anyone found guilty of joining a militant group could face 10 years in prison; financing terrorist groups will also carry a penalty of life in prison (25-year term); inciting violence or creating websites deemed to spread terror messages will carry sentences of five to seven years; journalists can be fined between 200,000 and 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($25,550-$63,870) for contradicting official accounts of militant attacks.

When the initial draft of the law was amended in June, it led to a domestic and international outcry after it initially called for a two-year prison sentence, Al Ahram reported.

In February, Sisi had signed another anti-terrorism law that gave authorities sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.

Some legal experts have argued that several articles of the law could be easily dubbed unconstitutional.

Amid criticism, Ibrahim El-Heneidy, parliamentary affairs and transitional justice minister, defended the government’s right to frame such a law given Egypt’s “war against terrorism”.