One Year On: Legislation Under Sisi

Photo: Egypt Presidency

Since his election, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has issued and amended over 100 decrees. In the absence of a seated parliament Sisi enjoys full legislative power and has issued decrees aiming to address the economic, security, and political issues facing Egypt today.

While new laws, such as an investment law that aims to create a one-stop shop for investors in Egypt, have been welcomed, other laws have been the subject of controversy.

One Year On

Over the course of the coming days, EgyptSource will publish a series of blog posts highlighting milestones marking Sisi’s first year in power. An in-depth look at the domestic politics, foreign policy, human rights, economic developments, legislation, and the media will give a comprehensive overview of the past year.

The Terrorism Law suffers from broad and vague language which could potentially be abused, while one of the elections laws issued has been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Below is a highlight of the most significant laws and amendments that have been issued over the past year. Once a parliament has been elected, as per the constitution, they will be required to review all of these laws within the first two weeks of being seated.

  • Legislation Reform Committee (June 16, 2014): Sisi issued a decree forming a legislation reform committee tasked with preparing new draft laws.
  • University Law (June 24, 2014): Sisi issued an amendment to the University Law reintroducing the stipulation that university chairmen and deans are appointed by presidential decree, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Higher Education. After the January 2011 Revolution, university leadership was chosen through elections. (January 16, 2015): Sisi issued a decree allowing for the suspension, expulsion, or dismissal of staff, students, and faculty who are involved in violence on university grounds. The law allows university presidents to refer professors to disciplinary committees for investigation.   
  • Income Tax Law (July 1, 2014):The new law imposes a 10-percent year-end tax on stock market dividends and capital gains.
  • Security ID Regulation Law (July 3, 2014): Sisi issued a decree regulating the issuance of IDs for military and police personnel and the manufacturing of their uniforms. The decree introduced amendments to the penal code aimed at toughening penalties against all those “harming public and national security by forging or illegally holding military or police ID cards or making or possessing army and police uniforms
  • Maximum Wage Law (July 3, 2014): Sisi issued a decree capping maximum wages in the public sector at 42,000 Egyptian pounds per month. With this change, the maximum wage is now 35 times the new minimum wage, which was increased to 1,200 Egyptian pounds per month several months before Sisi’s election.
  • Foreign Funding Penal Code Amendment (September 23, 2014): Increased sentence in the Penal Code for receiving foreign funds or arms to life in prison and a possible fine for receiving foreign funds or arms. If the defendant is a civil servant, they also face a possible death penalty.
  • Police Authority Act: (October 9, 2014): Sisi issued an amendment stipulating that the military judiciary alone is capable of trying crimes committed by police recruits. (December 15, 2014): Sisi issued an amendment creating a new rank in the police force. Recruits, aged between 19 and 23, will be trained “according to the latest cutting-edge policing programs,” and are also granted the power of arrest.
  • Azhar Regulation Law (October 23, 2014): Sisi issued a decree amending the Azhar Regulation Law to allow for the expulsion faculty, students, and staff members involved in violence, or who obstruct the educational process, or undermine the status of the university.
  • Military Courts Jurisdiction Law (October 27, 2014): Sisi issued a decree expanding the jurisdiction of military courts for a period of two years. Defendants accused of attacks on “vital and public facilities” including stations, power networks, gas and oil fields, railway lines, bridges and roads, will be referred to military trials. The armed forces will join the police in securing these facilities.
  • Foreign Repatriation Law (November 12, 2014): Sisi issued a decree allowing for the deportation of foreign nationals facing trial or convicted in Egypt. The law stipulates that defendants or convicts can be repatriated to continue being tried or to serve their sentence. The law has seen Australian journalist Peter Greste deported after being sentenced to seven years in prison in the Al Jazeera trial, and Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan after being sentenced to life in prison.
  • Microfinance Law (November 14, 2014): Sisi issued Egypt’s first microfinance law. Under the new law, microfinancing by companies, non-governmental organizations, and other non-bank sources, are regulated by the financial regulator known as EFSA. Banks will continue to be regulated by the central bank.
  • Criminal Law (November 19, 2014): Limited trials investigations in the Criminal Procedure Code to six months. If a judge fails to abide by the six month limit, the trial will be reassigned to another judge. Criminal Law (March 12, 2015): Extended statute of limitations for bribery and embezzlement to start the moment a state employee who committed a crime is removed from their post, rather than right after the crime was committed. The amendment was issued in response to the acquittal of Hosni Mubarak’s son, Alaa and Gamal, on charges of embezzling public funds, on the basis that the case had expired.
  • Election Laws (December 22, 2014): While former interim president Adly Mansour issued the parliamentary elections law and political rights law, Sisi issued the Parliamentary Constituencies Law, dividing the country into 237 constituencies. The three laws will regulate Egypt’s parliamentary elections. In March 2015, the Supreme Constitutional Court deemed the Parliamentary Constituencies Law unconstitutional. A recent study of the latest iteration of the Parliamentary Elections and Parliamentary Constituencies laws can be found here.
  • Investment Law (March 12, 2015): Issued right before Egypt’s Economic Development Conference in an attempt to attract investment, amendments to the law create a one-stop shop for foreign investors. The new amendments also now impose punishments on guilty employees rather than holding senior executives responsible for violations committed by employees.
  • Terrorism Law (February 24, 2015): Sisi issued an anti-terror law defining a terrorist group as an entity that disrupts public order, threatens safety and security, and harms national unity. Groups deemed terrorist entities face the suspension of their activities, freezing of its assets, and banning the group from political participation.

More on amendments and new decrees issued by Sisi can be found on the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy’s Legislation Tracker.