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Egypt: President Declares State of Emergency for Health and Security Conditions

(May 6, 2021) On April 25, 2021, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued Presidential Decree No. 174 of 2021, ratifying the extension of Egypt’s nationwide state of emergency for three months. The presidential decree cited health and security reasons as the justifications for declaring the state of emergency.

On April 10, 2017, the Council of Ministers had approved a previous declaration of a state of emergency by the president—the first such declaration after Sisi’s election and the adoption of a new constitution in 2014. The president’s declaration was issued in response to the suicide bombing of a Christian Orthodox church north of Cairo.

The 2014 Constitution

According to the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, the president of the republic, after consultation with the cabinet, has the right to declare a state of emergency. The executive branch must submit the declaration to the House of Representative for review within seven days. (Egyptian Const. of 2014, art. 154, para. 1.)

If the declaration takes place when the House of Representatives is not in regular session, a session is called immediately to review the declaration. (Art. 154, para. 2.) The declaration must be for a specified period not exceeding three months. A two-thirds’ majority of House members must approve the declaration. In the event the House of Representatives has been dissolved, the matter is submitted to the new House in its first session. (Art. 154, para. 3.)

The president has no right to dissolve the House of Representatives while a state of emergency is in force. (Art. 154, para. 4.)

Emergency State Security Courts

Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958 established the Emergency State Security Courts, which operate only during a state of emergency. The panel of an Emergency State Security Court is composed of three judges. (Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958, art. 7, para. 2.) These courts have jurisdiction over crimes related to national security. (Art. 9.) They do not adjudicate civil disputes. (Art. 11.)

According to Prime Ministerial Resolution No. 43 of 2018, which defined the scope of jurisdiction of the Emergency State Security Courts, the courts have jurisdiction over the following crimes:

  • acts against state security
  • holding illegal demonstrations and protests
  • disrupting public transportation
  • price fixing
  • the illegal use and trading of arms
  • vandalizing places of worship
  • destroying public facilities
  • threatening the security of the society
  • intimidating other citizens
  • acts of terrorism (Art. 1.)