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Egypt: Parliament Passes Anti-illegal Migration Law

(Nov. 4, 2016) On October 17, 2016, the Egyptian People’s Assembly passed an anti-human trafficking law and sent it to Egypt’s President for his signature. The law passed by a huge majority of 402 votes. Once the law is signed by the President, it will be published in the official gazette. (Egypt Parliament Passes Bill to Combat Illegal Migration, Human-Smuggling, AHRAM ONLINE (Oct.17, 2016).) The purpose of the law is to combat the increase in trafficking of illegal migrants departing from the Egyptian shore of the Mediterranean. The passage of the law followed the capsizing of a boat of illegal migrants that killed 450 of the boat’s passengers right off the Egyptian coast. (Egypt Passes Law to Curb Trafficking of Migrants Bound for Europe, EGYPT INDEPENDENT (Oct.18, 2016).)

The law consists of 34 articles, with the first article covering terms and definitions. (Provisions of Anti-Illegal Migration Law, AL-YOUM 7 (Oct. 4, 2016) (in Arabic).) Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12 of the new law impose terms of imprisonment up to a maximum sentence of life and a maximum fine of L.E.500,000 (about US$56,300) on those found guilty of smuggling potential migrants; acting as brokers or middlemen for smugglers; providing shelter to trafficked illegal migrants; or gathering, transporting, or otherwise facilitating the trafficking route. (Id.) Article 22 of the law encourages judicial cooperation between Egypt and other countries to combat trafficking. Article 25 sprovides for the protection of migrants, especially women and children, by providing them humanitarian treatment and access to health care and legal assistance. Article 28 establishes a Cabinet-level committee, headed by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, designated to coordinate various national and international efforts to combat illegal migration and human trafficking. (Id.)

Legal scholars have endorsed the law. They argue that it creates a vital government body that is dedicated to combat both illegal migration and human trafficking. . International organizations also welcomed the passage of the law. The head of the International Organization for Migration in Egypt, Amr Taha, had requested that the Parliament pass such a legal instrument to act as a strong deterrent to smugglers. (Egypt’s Anti-Smuggling Bill: New Criminals, Old Victims, MADAMASR (Oct. 19, 2016).)