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Egypt: New Crimes Added to Penal Code

(Jan. 11, 2021) On December 16, 2020, the Egyptian cabinet approved a proposed addition to the penal code concerning the criminalization of video and audio recordings of criminal trial hearings. Additionally, the Egyptian Parliament in September 2020 passed two laws introducing the new crimes of (1) bullying and (2) conducting foreign currency exchanges outside credited financial institutions.

Audio and Visual Recordings of Criminal Court Hearings

The provision approved by the cabinet provides that any person who records, broadcasts, publishes, or exhibits words or images of criminal court trial proceedings without the permission of the presiding judge; the public prosecution; or the accused, the civil claimant, or their legal representatives is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year and a fine of 100,000–200,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$6,385–$12,770), or either of these two penalties.

Conducting Foreign Currency Exchanges outside Credited Financial Institutions

Law No. 194 of 2020, which aims to curb any funding for terrorists and prevent any money laundering transactions, stipulates that any person conducting foreign currency exchanges outside accredited banks or financial institutions is punishable by three to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1 million–5 million Egyptian pounds (about US$63,860–$319,300). (Law No. 194 of 2020, art. 233, para. 1.) The law also punishes any person who outside accredited financial institutions receives deposits of foreign currencies, wires foreign currencies to other countries, or receives wired foreign currencies from abroad with six months’ to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1 million–5 million Egyptian pounds, or one of the two penalties. (Art. 233, para. 2.)

Bullying

Law 189 of 2020 amends the penal code to define and punish the crime of bullying. The law defines the act of bully as “exerting power or control [over someone], or exploiting the victim’s weakness.” The law also considers insulting the victim’s gender, race, religion, physical characteristics, health or mental condition, or social status as an act of bullying. (Law 189 of 2020, art. 309 duplicate (b), para. 1.)

The law punishes the crime of bullying with a term of imprisonment of not less than six months and a fine of 10,000–30,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$640– $1915), or one of these two penalties. (Art. 309 duplicate (b), para. 2.)

The law also enhances the penalty if two or more persons committed the act of bullying against the victim or if the perpetrator is responsible for the upbringing or supervision of the victim, or has authority over the victim. The perpetrator in both of these circumstances is punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year and a fine of 20,000–100,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$1,275–$6,385), or one of these two penalties. (Art. 309 duplicate (b), para. 3.)