CAIRO – 30 August 2018: The Egyptian Parliament’s (House of Representatives’) fourth session, which is set to begin in early October, is expected to see the passing of several important draft laws, most notably the draft laws on: local administration, the reconciliation procedure in case of building violations, water resources and irrigation, traffic and the Criminal Procedure Law. The session is also expected to witness the amendment of the Unified Building Law No. 119 of 2008.
In preparation for the start of the fourth session, Egypt Today delves into the details of these laws, their importance and the effect the new draft laws will have on civilians, given that they pass.
1- Criminal Procedure Law
One of the most important and most prominent draft laws that are expected to pass during the fourth session is the draft law governing the Criminal Procedure Law.
The draft law has fundamental changes that set in motion faster trials and accelerates the pace of the completion of criminal cases, without violating the principals of a fair trial. The draft law also reforms sections governing criminal disputes of a financial nature, the system for the protection of witnesses and informants, precautionary procedures, as well as terminations and compensations in case of damage in cases specified by law.
The law originally consisted of 560 articles, and has been summarized to 320 articles. The draft includes 44 articles newly added to the law and 150 articles being replaced, El-Tamawy added.
Over the past few years, the law has witnessed a total of 20 partial amendments, but has never been fully amended, stated the cabinet in July, according to state-run Al Ahram newspaper. In November 2014, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had approved amendments to the law in absence of the parliament, which had resumed its session in 2016. Moreover, a number of articles were previously amended in 2003.
2- Local Administration
CAIRO - 2 August 2017: Egypt’s Criminal Procedure Law, which is known as the country’s second constitution, is scheduled to witness a full amendment after the government has forwarded a draft of 320 articles to the parliament for discussion, which will mark the first full amendment of the law since the 1950s.
This is considered by the Parliament ot be one of the most important laws that will be passed; elections are expected to take place at the end of 2018 or the early beginnings of 2019, as announced by Speaker of the Parliament Ali Abdel Aal.
The Ministry of Local Development has reportedly allocated specific portions from its 2018/2019 budget to local councils, implying the government’s intention to permit municipal councils to work once again, MP Yousry al Asiouty, member of the parliamentary committee for local development, said in press remarks on Friday.
The local administration law will be expectedly passed during the current parliamentary session and then the government will be able to hold the municipal elections.
For his part, Yasser al-Hudaibi, official spokesman of the Wafd Party, said that the party is ready to run in the municipal elections, adding that the party is open to go in alliance with other parties and national forces to contest the elections in a mixed-party list under the leadership of the party.
Hudaibi added that Wafd preferred engaging other parties to form a political alliance as it is difficult for any party to win all the seats in all constituencies.
In the same context, Islam Ghazoli, member of the Political Bureau of Al Masryeen Al Ahrar (Liberal Egyptians Party), said that the party has been working on developing a comprehensive and ambitious strategy to prepare its cadres of young people and women to be able to actively participate in the municipal elections, stressing that the party seeks to empower fresh faces in the political scene.
Mohamed Amin, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party for Youth Affairs, pointed out that the party held several meetings to train its cadres in preparation for the local elections, stressing the need to expedite the issuance of the local administration law.
He pointed out that more meetings of the community dialogue should be held on the draft law to highlight the importance, impact and definition of the electoral system, stressing the importance of local administration in reducing the burden on the House of Representatives.
He explained that the Conservative Party is open to the electoral alliances in local council elections.
The local administration law stipulates that 75 percent of the seats shall be dedicated to the single-member seats, while 25 percent goes to the candidates of the winning mixed-party list.
3- Reconciliation in building violations
CAIRO - 30 July 2018: Reactivating the municipal councils again in Egypt is waiting for the House of Representatives that are still discussing the new local administration’s draft law.
The head of the Housing, Public Utilities and Reconstruction Committee Moataz Mahmoud said that the draft law will be considered with the concerned ministries and entities, adding that they are scheduled to reach a decision on the draft law in a meeting held February 19, 2018.
The draft law comes within the framework of legal and practical solutions to the problem of building violations, recently causing collapsing buildings, to combat the phenomenon of cases related to building violations.
The draft law stipulates reconciliation in the acts committed in violating the law governing the building, including the case of change of use of the building.
The draft law aims to preserve and protect architectural and archaeological heritage and organize measures of reconciliation.
Under the draft law, building violations could be reconciled with exception for acts that violate construction safety and facilities of distinctive architectural styles. Infringements include the approved regulatory lines and the statutory heights rights as well as building on state owned land and agricultural land or land subjected to the law on the Protection of Antiquities.
To consider the reconciliation request and issue a decision in this regard, a technical committee shall be formed in each concerned administrative authority, and be led by civil and architectural engineers, who are accredited at the administrative authority, along with a representative from the Interior Ministry.
The reconciliation shall be submitted to the concerned administrative authority at a date no later than three months from the draft law’s executive regulations that would determine the fees for reconciliation.
CAIRO – 19 February 2018: Parliament’s Housing Committee discussed on Monday a draft law on reconciliation in some building violations after it had been approved by the Parliament.
Along the same lines, it should be mentioned that recent collapsing buildings highlight the longtime problem of the construction business across Egypt due to poor maintenance, violations of building codes, and illegal extensions and constructions. 2017 witnessed several collapsed of buildings, killing 15 people and injured 55 others.
The latest tragedy happened because of construction violations on three residential buildings in the central Cairo district of Rod al-Farag in December. The initial collapse of one of the buildings resulted in the crumbling of the two adjacent buildings due to poor infrastructure, leaving two people dead, including a four-year-old girl, and another seven injured.
To combat this phenomenon, the Egyptian Parliament has discussed the unified construction law No. 119 during a meeting held on July 18, 2016 to submit amendments to the law. The law is aimed at those who violate the license and build illegal constructions by imposing fines, prison sentences or higher utilities tariffs.
4- Governorate Law
CAIRO – 23 September 2017: Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities Dr. Mustafa Madbouli announced ending a draft law amending some provisions of Law No. 144/2006 that regulate the Law of Regulating the Demolition of Non-Dilapidated Buildings and Establishments and the Preservation of Architectural Heritage
The draft law will grant governors full powers to enable them to perform their duties in an optimum manner, in addition to granting local units an independent budget, establishing a new academy to train local leaders; 25 percent for youth and 25 percent for women. The law also allocates seats for those with special needs.
The new law will reduce corruption at different levels and is expected to produce better results, as it is believed that different governorates need different things and raining local leaders will allow them to capitalize on the issues facing their own governorate and find solutions for it.
In line with this, previously, in press statements, Wadhah al-Hamzawi, former governor of Sohag, said, “The governor used to first come forward to the municipal council of his governorate before he could allocate any plots of land for investment purposes, and now he is obliged to present any development plans to the Cabinet during its meeting with the governorates, which takes only four hours.”
Former Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaky Abdeen said that the former local councils did not have an effective role in contributing to the development of the governorates. “The problem boils down to the lack of experienced and qualified people in these councils,” he added.
5- Unified Building Law No. 119 of 2008
This law comes hand-in-hand with the Reconciliation in building violations; it only makes sense to ensure that there is a legal way and sound legislative grounds for legal building to ensure that civilians avoid building violations, believes the Parliament.
The draft law includes activating the role of the union of occupants, provided that the validity certificate of the building site is limited to two weeks; the issuance of building permits for three years instead of one year; preventing the change of the activity of the housing unit; and, the intensification of penalties in case of violation.
The draft law also stipulates measures to ensure that the buildings and installations are secure and safe for use.
The draft law also grants the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development the authority to remove buildings outside the urban space.
During this year, the Egyptian Parliament has approved a number of legislations during the current legislative period, including the long-awaited Church Building Law issued on August 30, 2016, consists of 13 articles that regulates building and renovating churches in Egypt. For details on said law, see link below.
6- Traffic Law
CAIRO - 18 April 2018: The Cabinet approved legislation proposed by its committee for legalizing unlicensed churches and services buildings on Wednesday. The legislation is set to legalize 166 churches and buildings across the nation.
The draft law is made up of 96 articles, split into five sections.
The new draft law includes harsher penalties (whilst also remaining gradual), specialization for each part of the traffic system and related jurisdiction and a system of complete communication to ensure that all sides and all parts of the system ate connected and able to function to the highest of levels. In addition, the new draft law aims to reduce human intervention in administrative procedures (licensing and seizure infringements) as much as possible; instead, it aims to rely on an electronic system.
CAIRO – 18 October 2017: The Egyptian government approved on Wednesday the new traffic law, Transport Minister Hesham Arafat said in a press conference at the cabinet headquarters.
7- Fatwa Law
CAIRO - 4 September 2017: In a knowledge survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010, 75 percent of respondents did not understand the importance of wearing seatbelts; and most said they would have little impact in urban areas due to vehicle density and congestion.
The draft law regulating Dar al-Iftaa (Islamic decisions) submitted by Member of Parliament (MP) Osama al-Abd, head of Religious and Endowments Affairs Committee in the Parliament, forms the organizational structure and functions of the workers in the Dar al-Iftaa and sets a number of tasks to be conducted during the coming period, and also put controls on who is fit to be Mufti or Secretary of the advisory opinion and the difference Between the fatwa and the opinion or the jurisprudence on religious issues, as well as the appropriate sources for the fatwa and religious ruling.
Previously, on July 4, 2018, a new draft law which regulates the media appearance of religious scholars and imposes punishments on whoever discusses religious issues on television talk shows without having a permit.
CAIRO– 5 July 208: Osama el-Abd, head of Religious and Endowments Affairs Committee in the Parliament, approved on Wednesday a new draft law which regulates the media appearance of religious scholars and imposes punishments on whoever discusses religious issues on television talk shows without having a permit.
According to statement issued by the parliamentarian Religious Committee on July 4, 2018, the draft law was issued by more than 80 Parliament members. The new law is expected to control the odd fatwas that were issued during the past period through media outlets and that caused huge controversy amid Egyptians. This wave of fatwas also raised questions regarding the entities entailed to issue fatwas inside the country.
According to the newly approved law, a scholar who is proved incompetent for issuing fatwas will be punished with a fine of not more than LE 20,000 and not less than LE 10,000 if he uses media to issue fatwas. The punishment also doubles if the punished person decides to reappear on media to issue fatwas for a second time.
This law comes within the framework of Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism, extremist ideology and odd fatwas that incite sedition, in light of the recent increase in the number of fatwas issued and the number of people preaching about religious habits on social media.
In a statement before the conference titled “The Role of Fatwas in Stabilizing the Society”, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, said that Egypt nowadays is facing an unprecedented wave of distortion of Islam’s teachings by unlicensed persons.
“Unfortunately, some have been allowed to issue flawed fatwas that distort Islamic Sharia and violate Islam's true teachings," said Tayeb.
Fatwas are Islamic religious rulings issued by a recognized religious authority or individual, based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance on the routine of daily life subjects such as marriage and inheritance.
In Egypt, Dar Al-Iftaa, under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, is the official institution devoted to providing fatwas on its website, along with the clerics of specialized offices at Al-Azhar, Egypt's top religious authority. For example, all court sentences of death must be approved by Dar Al-Iftaa.
8- Water resources and irrigation
CAIRO – 7 July 2018: The Parliament’s Religious and Endowments Affairs Committee approved the Endowments Ministry’s right to issue fatwas (religious decrees) in a new law, following fierce row between the Endowments Ministry and Al-Azhar, the latter deemed the highest Sunni religious authority in Islamic world.
The Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation in the House of Representatives has finished writing up the draft law and the discussion phase; all that is currently left is fixing up a few comments.
All members of the Committee stressed the need to bring the law to light at the beginning of the fourth session in order to make good use of available water resources through new mechanisms based on rationalization of consumption and overcrowding penalty on resources including the Nile River, as well as the conservation of groundwater.
9- Subsidized goods draft law
CAIRO - 6 September 2017: The Egyptian government approved on Wednesday, during its meeting, the new law on water resources and irrigation, announced the Irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Ati in a press conference.
Among the important draft laws expected to be discussed is the government's amendment of some provisions of Law No. 95 of 1945 on subsidized goods and some provisions of the Competition Protection Law and the Prevention of Monopolistic Practices promulgated by Law No. 3 of 2005. The new amendments stipulate that crimes committed in monopoly of goods (including petroleum products) or their facilitation.
The crime will be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and not more than five years, and a fine not less than 100 thousand pounds and not more than one million pounds.
10- Real estate legislation draft law
CAIRO – 4 July 2017: Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali al-Moselhi said July 3 that procedures, guidelines and rules governing the addition of new born children to ration cards will be put in place and announced July 11. This comes after the Prime Minister has approved a decision to add children that are not currently on the cards but should be to the cards.
The real estate registration is also seen as one of the most prominent draft laws that are to be passed during the fourth session of Parliament. Although the bill has not yet been sent to the House of Representatives, Dr Ali Abdel-Al, Speaker of the House, called on the government to quickly prepare legislation on real estate registration and sent to parliament for discussion in preparation for approval.
Additional Reporting by Marina Gamil and Rehab Ismail
CAIRO – 28 August 2018: Several law projects will be discussed during the upcoming parliamentary round; one of these laws is the controversial old-rent law.