Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power in Egypt in 2013 by staging a coup d'etatReuters

Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has approved tough new anti-terrorism laws aimed at countering the threat of a two-year long jihadist insurgency.

It permits terrorism cases to be fast-tracked through special courts, with those found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group facing the death penalty, the Mena news agency reported, while those found guilty of joining such a group face up to 10 years in prison.

The stringent new laws come after a public prosecutor was killed in a car bomb attack carried out by insurgents, who seek to overthrow Al-Sisi's government.

Egyptian security forces are also battling jihadists who have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State militant group in the Sinai Peninsula.

But rights groups warn that the new laws are open to abuse by Al-Sisi, who they say could use them to crack down on peaceful dissent.

'Deeply flawed'

The new legislation also protects military and police officers who have used force from legal ramifications.

In addition, journalists could face fines between 200,000 to 500,000 Egyptian pounds (£16,000 to £41,000) for veering from the government's official version of any insurgency attack in the country.

Amnesty International called the draft version of the anti-terror laws "deeply flawed" on 12 August and warned that it would "effectively ban rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly".

"Amnesty International is concerned over the broad implications that the draft legislation would have on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt," it said in a report.

"If the authorities intend to adopt the law, the organisation urges them to undertake a thorough review of the draft and bring it in line with international human rights law and standards.

"The authorities must ensure that they cannot abuse their new powers to silence peaceful dissent."