President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a new amendment to the Egyptian Penal code on Wednesday, criminalizing failure to report knowledge of the possession of explosives to authorities, the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reported.
Article 102 K stipulates a prison sentence of a year or more, and/or a monetary fine of between LE20,000 and LE100,000 for not reporting such information.
This is the third amendment Sisi has made to the Penal Code. In April 2015, Article 82 B was amended to criminalize the digging of, or use of, smuggling tunnels on Egypt’s borders for the purpose of communicating with other nations or their citizens or residents, as well as the movement of goods, tools, or equipment, whether for monetary compensation or not.
The law specifically attempts to halt the use of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Palestine. Those with any knowledge of the existence or use of tunnels can also be sentenced to life for failure to report such information to the authorities under this amendment.
The Egyptian military simultaneously carried out an operation to flood all of the tunnels it was aware of and to demolish all residential buildings within a five-kilometer parameter of the Sinai border in Rafah.
The third legal change was made by the president in September 2014, when Article 78 was amended to criminalize receiving foreign funds. This applies to any individual requesting or receiving funds, arms or equipment from a foreign country, or a foreign or local private organization, with the aim of pursuing acts that may harm national interests or threaten to destabilize the country or its unity, with penalties ranging from fines of LE500,000 to life imprisonment, and civil servants being potentially subject to the death sentence for the same crime.
This amendment was criticized for being part of a wider campaign launched by the Ministry of Social Solidarity against NGOs in Egypt. The ministry had given an ultimatum to all NGOs working without being officially registered to legalize their status or face closure.
Sisi has been criticized for using his legislative powers to pass a number of controversial laws in the absence of a parliament. The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, which established a legislation tracker to highlight some of these changes, claims, “The speedy enactment of such legislation at the sole discretion of the president is contrary to a representative and democratic system.”