Egypt – Whistleblowing Protection, Overview

1.Background

In January of 2011 the Arab Spring reached Egypt and inspired the uprisings of the Lotus Revolution1, which led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. In 2012, the first free Egyptian presidential election was held, in which Mohamed Morsi was elected as the country’s president2.

However, in 2013 a second wave of the Egyptian revolution saw President Morsi removed from office, and replaced by a military-backed interim president, Adly Mansour3. In January of 2014 a constitutional referendum was held and endorsed by 98.1 percent of people who voted—reportedly 38.6 percent of Egypt’s eligible voters4. Critics of the draft constitution say that it endorses military-rule5.

Egypt ranked 114 out of 177 countries on the 2013 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index6.

Egypt currently lacks any freestanding law that protects whistleblowers or pertains directly to whistleblowing.

2. Current legal situation

a. Public sector

Wrongdoing in a government institution can be reported by public servants. However, cases of false whistleblowing are penalised under Law 62/1975, with penalties ranging from LE100 to LE500 or a minimum 6-month prisons sentence. Additionally, whistleblowers reporting violations to examining bodies—such as the Administrative Control Authority—are usually legally required to provide full personal details, which generally discourages whistleblowing.

Whistleblowing is used as a tool by the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO) to investigate alleged misconduct. However, while no legal basis exists which bestows the public with the right to report grievances, it is generally accepted that the public are able to blow the whistle on budgetary irregularities.

The Illicit Enrichment Law under Article 22, notionally provides for the reporting of ‘illicit enrichment of individuals’ by any member of the public. Reports can be made to:


  1. The head of the corrupt department or agency;
  2. The Administrative Prosecution Authority (APA)
  3. The Administrative Control Authority (ACA) (investigating financial and administrative crimes – Law 117/1958). The ACA has internal monitoring and disciplinary codes for their members in an effort to reduce corruption;
  4. CAO;
  5. Illicit Enrichment Apparatus (with a full-time staff for the internal reporting mechanism for public sector corruption);
  6. Public Money Investigation Authority; and/or
  7. The media.

Each of these agencies—exclusive of internal departments—has the capacity and specific full-time staff to deal with investigate complaints. As an example, the APA investigates approximately 70,000 cases annually and less than 50 per cent are found to be false complaints.

However, any individuals who report illicit enrichment remain subject to Law 62/1975 , as outlined above.

Corruption complaints can be filed in the courts by members of the public, however, there are hurdles with regard to legal action against police forces. The law of criminal procedures allows states that:

  • sentences can be appealed if they are issued against an official for a crime committed while carrying out his work; and
  • if a suit is brought against a public employee, he is not obliged to appear before the court in person if the crime took place during the course of employment (second article of item 232).

While not widely used, any person is able to file a complaint before the public prosecutor. However, whistleblowers are generally not relied upon due to the public prosecutors wide-ranging investigative powers, and because the identity of individual whistleblowers is not kept confidential following a complaint.

No protections exist for whistleblowers within law enforcement agencies. Nor are there any specific protections for public servants who report cases of corruption, graft, abuse of power or misuse of resources. Further, no provision for whistleblower protection exists in Law 2/1977, which establishes the illegal profiting apparatus. Rather, Law 2/1977 penalises individuals who have made a report that is proven false or acted with malice in reporting on corruption, regardless of whether the information led to the commencement of legal proceedings.

b. Private sector

Individual codes of conduct with whistleblowing provisions do exist in some companies in Egypt. These organisations are predominantly multi-national corporations.

Despite being a non-member country, Egypt supports the OECD guidelines for MultinationalEnterprises. Reinforcing complaint mechanisms and providing for the protection of whistleblowers are among the chief aims of the guidelines. However, whether these guidelines are practically implemented in Egypt remains unknown.

3. Additional legislative gaps

Together with the legislative gaps in whistleblower protection mechanisms already mentioned, there is room for improvement in both the judiciary and the business sector. The judiciary currently lacks any provisions for whistleblowing and the business sector has no voluntary anti-corruption initiatives.

Individual private businesses may choose to adopt whistleblowing policies, however most do not combat whistleblowing directly. Introduced in 2004, more than 60 Egyptian countries have joined the United Nations Global Compact, which requested that companies throughout the world to voluntarily implement internal anti-corruption mechanisms.

In Egypt, the work of the APA and the ACA has been reasonably successful at a local level in dealing with reports on corruption. However, protection mechanisms are fractured and there are no specific laws that mention whistleblowing and the rights of whistleblowers.

Last modified: 24 May 2014


1 http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/01/28/egypt.press.club/index.html?eref=edition_africa

2 http://www.rferl.org/content/chaos-end-arab-spring/25082994.html

3 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23176293

4 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25796110

5 http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/15/world/africa/egypt-referendum/

6 http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results