Military council ratifies draft law criminalizing protests

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has ratified a controversial draft law criminalizing protests, strikes and demonstrations, bringing into effect a law that opposition parties and human rights organizations have strongly opposed.

Law No. 34 of 2011 was issued on 24 March by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's cabinet and presented to the SCAF for ratification.

A number of political movements, including labor syndicates and the 25 January Revolution Youth Coalition, announced their rejection of the new law, while various politicians and legal experts said it represented a return to the former era of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Political movements called for “expansive community discussions as [the law] concerns public freedoms”.

The ratification came as a total surprise amidst complete silence from the government.

According to Article 1 of the new  law, anyone organizing or participating in a protest or strike that impedes the work of a government institution, or a public or private business, will be arrested and face fines ranging from LE20,000 to LE500,000 or a prison sentence of at least one year, or both.

Even those promoting strikes or protests but not actually participating in them are subject to imprisonment and fines of up to LE50,000 (around US$8300).

Article 2 of the law states that the new law must be announced in the state-owned Official Gazette. According to the same article, the law will come into effect on the day following the date of publication — in other words, on 13 April, the day after the draft appeared in print.

Translated from the Arabic Edition


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