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Egypt Passes New Law Rights Groups Call 'Death Warrant'

FILE - Friends of Egyptian suspects react as they listen to the judge's verdict at a court room during a case against foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Cairo, June 4, 2013

The Egyptian parliament has voted in favor of a new law aimed at regulating non-governmental organizations that gives security agencies extensive power and the upper hand over the financing, registration, and activities of NGOs and rights groups.

The law, considered by rights groups as the most repressive for such organizations since the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, won a majority of the vote among lawmakers, mostly the president's supporters, on Tuesday.

The law punishes violators with up to five years in prison along with heavy fines.

It also stipulates the creation of a new oversight body controlled by the security apparatus. The new agency will be in charge of all work carried out by NGOs, effectively placing civil society at the mercy of security agencies.

London-based rights group Amnesty International described it as a ``death warrant'' and called upon the president not to ratify it.