Cairo, Egypt (BBN)-Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws to fight the country’s growing Islamist insurgency.
The laws establish special courts and offer additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who have used force, reports BBC.
They also impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group.
Rights groups say the legislation will be used by Sisi to crush dissent.
Egypt is in the grip of a two-year insurgency by Islamist groups that aim to topple Sisi’s government.
The Egyptian president vowed back in June to bring in tough new legislation, following the assassination of a public prosecutor using a car bomb.
Under the laws introduced on Monday, trials for suspected militants will be fast-tracked through special courts. Anyone found guilty of joining a militant group could face 10 years in prison.
Financing terrorist groups will also carry a penalty of life in prison, which in Egypt means a term of 25 years.
Inciting violence or creating websites deemed to spread terrorist messages will carry sentences of between five and seven years.
The laws also allow the government to fine journalists $25,000 for contradicting official accounts of militant attacks.
The original draft of the law was amended following domestic and international outcry after it initially called for imprisonment.
Plumes of smoke rise from the site of a protest in support of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on a pro-Morsi sit-in demonstration at the Rabaa al-Adweya Mosque in the Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt
Rights groups have warned that the legislation could be used to crush dissent, lock up opponents and impose further restrictions on freedom of expression.
Hundreds of members of Egypt’s security forces have been killed by militant attacks in the country’s Sinai region.
The insurgency has intensified since Mr Sisi, then chief of the army, ousted the Islamist former President Mohamed Morsi after mass protests against his rule in 2013.
The most active insurgent group – known now as Sinai Province and before that as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis – has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State terror group.
Sisi has overseen a crackdown on Islamists, jailing thousands of alleged Islamist supporters have been jailed and sentencing scores to death, including Morsi.
The government claims that the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.
In February, Sisi signed off on another anti-terrorism law that gave authorities sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.