Egypt: Military service, including age of recruitment, exemptions and availability of alternative service; treatment of persons who refuse or evade military service, including upon their return from abroad (2016-July 2018) [EGY106143.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Military Service
1.1 Age of Recruitment and Length of Service

Sources indicate that military service is compulsory for men aged 18 to 30 years old (US 12 July 2018; Germany 11 Dec. 2014, 2; MEE 21 Oct. 2016). According to Middle East Eye (MEE), an online news organization covering the Middle East region, "[a]fter 30, men are no longer obligated to enter the military" (MEE 21 Oct. 2016). The CIA World Factbookindicates that the length of military service is 18 to 36 months, followed by a 9 year reserve obligation (US 12 July 2018). According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the period of military service

may be reduced on the basis of academic qualifications in the case of certain categories, including graduates from universities and higher institutes, those with intermediate diplomas and above, those who have memorized the Koran and those in trades and professions needed by the armed forces. (Germany 11 Dec. 2014, 2)

An article published on Qantara.de [1] states that "[a]nyone with a college or university degree is conscripted for 13 months. People with a lower standard of education can be drafted for up to three years" (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016). Similarly, The New Arab, a news and current affairs website focused on Arab countries, states that with a university degree, a conscript has to serve one year, or three years if he is chosen to be a reserve officer (The New Arab 6 Apr. 2015). The same source indicates that conscripts with high school diplomas have to serve 1.5 years, while those with middle school or lower degrees have to serve "three years as soldiers, usually in the Central Security Forces run by the police" (The New Arab 6 Apr. 2015).

1.2 Deferral of Military Service

The Ministry of Defense of Egypt states on its website that, in peace time, students can postpone their military service until they obtain their academic degree for which the postponement was granted (Egypt n.d.a). The same source defines "students" as follows:

[translation]

  • Secondary school students or equivalent in the Republic up to the age of (22) years.
  • Students up to the age of (25) years who are enrolled in colleges and will obtain a two-year college degree.
  • Students up to the age of (28) years who are enrolled in the universities, faculties, and colleges of the Arab Republic of Egypt and equivalent in the Republic.
  • Students studying abroad at different stages of education. The number of the deferral for such students should match that of their peers who are studying in the Republic. […]
  • If a student - not over the age of 29 years - exceeds in the final year of study the maximum conscription deferrals referred to, the deferral shall continue until the end of the academic year of colleges and faculties. (Egypt n.d.a)

In addition, MEE states that "young men are required to enlist in the military upon graduation" (MEE 21 Oct. 2016).

1.3 Military Service Exemptions

Sources note that Egyptian men can be exempted from military service on medical grounds (MEE 21 Oct. 2016; Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016; Egypt n.d.b). The Consulate General of Egypt in Montreal states on its website that dual nationals "can apply for military exemption" (Egypt n.d.b). According to the Egyptian Ministry of Defense's website, a conscript can be temporarily exempted from military service if he is:

  • the only son of his living father;
  • the only supporter of his father who is unable to earn a living as well as of his brothers who are also unable to earn a living;
  • the only supporter of his widowed or [translation] "irrevocably divorced" mother, or if the husband of the latter is unable to earn a living;
  • eligible for conscription, but [translation] "he is the brother of an officer, a soldier or a citizen missing in military operations" (Egypt n.d.c).

The same source further indicates that a conscript can be permanently exempted of military service if he is:

  • medically unfit for military service;
  • the only son of his deceased father or of a father who is unable to earn a living;
  • eligible for recruitment, but is the oldest son or brother of a citizen killed or injured in military operation and then unable to earn a living;
  • eligible for recruitment, but is the brother or the son of an officer, a soldier or a volunteer who died or was injured in a military operation and as such, is permanently unable to earn a living;
  • 30 years old or older and is entitled to temporary exemption (Egypt n.d.c).

Without providing further details, the website of the Egyptian Consulate in Montreal indicates that an individual who obtained a temporary exemption because they are the only son of their father "can apply" for permanent exemption once they turn 30 years old or their father turns 60 years old (Egypt n.d.b).

1.4 Exclusion from Military Service

On its website, the Egyptian Ministry of Defense lists four cases of exclusion from military services:

[translation]

  1. Individuals appointed to the rank of Lieutenant in the Armed Forces or in a government body with a military system.
  2. Citizens of the Arab Republic of Egypt who have already done the military service in the army of a foreign state and have established normal residence.
  3. Students studying at colleges and military institutes designed to graduate officers for the Armed Forces, police, and government departments and authorities with a military system up to their graduation.
  4. Excluded individuals according to rules and terms issued by the Minister of Defense - individuals who acquired a foreign nationality - public interest requirements - repeated offenders. (Egypt n.d.d)

1.5 Availability of Alternative Service

According to Aswat Masriya [2], on 15 September 2015, the Minister of Social Solidarity announced that as of October 2015, all Egyptian nationals exempted from military service would be assigned to perform community service (Aswat Masriya 15 Sept. 2015). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Qantara.de reports that an alternative service only exists "on paper" (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Treatment of Those Refusing or Evading Military Service
2.1 When Aged Under 30 Years Old

Orient XXI, a website presenting analytical articles on the Middle-East and North Africa by journalists, academics, jurists and diplomats, among others (Orient XXI 5 June 2013), reports that on 17 December 2015, the Egyptian armed forces enacted a law prohibiting students aged between 19 and 29 years old to leave the country if they have not served their military service time (Orient XXI 25 Feb. 2016). The source further indicates that there are exceptions for special circumstances such as for the pilgrimage to Mecca, for healthcare needs or for a visit to parents (Orient XXI 25 Feb. 2016). Likewise, according to Qantara.de, "anyone who does not absolve his military service, but who has already completed his education, needs a permit from the army for any foreign travel" (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016). The same source states that, in order to work before completing the military service, one needs to obtain a work permit from the army every two weeks (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016).

According to Anadolu Agency (AA), a Turkish press agency, avoiding military service or [translation] "not answering the reserve units' call is punishable by three to seven years of imprisonment, accompanied by fines" (AA 2 Mar. 2018). Information on the implementation of these penalties could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

No to Compulsory Military Service Movement (NoMilService)'s [3] blog reports the cases of two conscientious objectors who have been permanently exempted from military service, but without being recognized as conscientious objectors (NoMilService 18 June 2015). The same source states that, to their knowledge, "there has been no trial in Egypt for a conscientious objector, nor [has] the military ever tried to force a pacifist to serve in the army" (NoMilService 18 June 2015). However, according to the same source, since 2010, "the military ha[s] put all conscientious objectors in a legal limbo for a duration [that] varies between weeks and years," before exempting them from the service (NoMilService 18 June 2015). Likewise, according to MEE, conscientious objectors can wait for the army's decision on their exemption for months, "even years" (MEE 28 Nov. 2016). The same source, noting that only nine young men are "known to have refused military service in the past few years," adds that the objectors are "regularly summoned by the army, facing several interrogations and […] lose certain freedoms of movement" (MEE 28 Nov. 2016).

Qantara.de signals that Maikel Nabil Sanad, who was the first publicly acknowledged conscientious objector in the country, was imprisoned for contempt before being released "after a few days" and exempted from service on health grounds (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016). Similarly, MEE indicates that Maikel Nabil Sanad was detained for one day in 2010 and eventually was exempted on mental health grounds (MEE 28 Nov. 2016). On the website of War Resisters' International (WRI), "a global network of grassroots antimilitarist and pacifist groups, working together for a world without war," it is reported that Maikel Nabil Sanad was imprisoned between 12 and 14 November 2010 for not presenting himself for military service when ordered to do so (WRI n.d.).

2.2 When Aged 30 Years Old and Over

Qantara.de reports that to avoid military service, some leave the country before the beginning of the recruitment process only to return after their 30th birthday, "when they have passed the age threshold for conscription" (Qantara.de 21 Nov. 2016).

According to the [translation] "Guidelines for Terminating the Conscription Status of Citizens who Evaded Conscription" for individuals over the age of 30, which are posted on the Egyptian Ministry of Defense's website,

[translation]

Article 49 of Law No. 127 of 1980 stipulates that any person over the age of 30 evading examination or conscription shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than 3,000 [Egyptian] pounds (EGP) [approximately C$220] and not more than 10,000 pounds [approximately C$736], or either of these two punishments. (Egypt n.d.e)

According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees,

[t]he Military and National Service Act number 127 of 1980, article 49 states that any person exceeding 30 years or 31 years (according to the case situation) [who] had deliberately skipped the examination process or the military recruitment shall be subject to imprisonment for up to two years or a penalty of not less than 500 Egyptian pounds [approximately C$37] and not more than 1,000 Egyptian pounds … or both. (Germany 11 Dec. 2014, 2)

The Guidelines published on the Egyptian Ministry of Defense's website provide the following:

[translation]

Procedures for terminating the conscription status of citizens reaching the age of no conscription (30 years) and who have evaded conscription:

  1. The following documents must be submitted to the Conscription and Mobilization Center:
    • Fingerprints.
    • Birth certificate.
    • National ID card.
    • Military service card (6 Conscript) or the paper form of the identity card issued for the first time stating the number of the card and the place of issue. This applies to individuals born in 1984 and earlier.
    • In the case of a prior exemption / temporary exclusion, the individual must present a document verifying lack of justification for prior exemption/temporary exclusion.
  2. Procedures:
    • As soon as the citizen who evaded conscription presents himself at the relevant center of conscription with the above mentioned documents, he will be interrogated and then referred to the competent Military Prosecution to handle all his file (the report is not necessarily a criminal case / referral to the Military Court of Misdemeanors).
    • After the completion of the legal process, the citizen presents himself again to the center in the relevant region to obtain the form prepared for that purpose. This form may be presented to all the relevant ministries and authorities in the state to clarify the conscription status. (Egypt n.d.e, emphasis in original)

According to sources, judiciary committees of the Egyptian Armed Forces were to be sent to various countries in order to settle the military status of men over 30 years old who have failed to do their military service in time (AA 2 Mar. 2018; Khaleej Times8 Mar. 2018; Egypt 31 May 2018). Anadolu Agency quotes the spokesperson of the Armed Forces as stating that these military judiciary comittees will [translation] "deliver end-of-service certificates to those who are over 30 years old and have not completed their military service, after they have paid the fine stipulated by the law" (AA 2 Mar. 2018).

Further information on the implementation of legislation on military service evasion, including upon return from abroad, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] Qantara.de is an Internet portal funded by the German Foreign Office that aims to promote dialogue with the Islamic world (Qantara.de n.d.).

[2] Aswat Masriya is an online news service initially established by Thomson Reuters Foundation after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution; it offers "accurate, unbiased and impartial news and analysis on events related to Egypt" (Aswat Masriya n.d.).

[3] The No to Compulsory Military Service Movement (NoMilService) is an Egyptian movement protesting military service in Egypt (MEE 28 Nov. 2016).

References

Anadolu Agency (AA). 2 March 2018. Hussein Mahmoud Ragab Elkabany. "Égypte: régularisation de la situation des résidents à l'étranger ." [Accessed 13 July 2018]

Aswat Masriya. 15 September 2015. "Egyptians Exempted from Military to Perform Community Service - Minister ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Aswat Masriya. N.d. "About." [Accessed 11 July 2018]

Egypt. 31 May 2018. Consulate General in Montreal. "Announcement." [Accessed 18 July 2018]

Egypt. N.d.a. Ministry of Defense. "Deferral Cases Due to Studying ." Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 29 June 2018]

Egypt. N.d.b. Consulate General of Egypt in Montreal. "Exemption From Military Service ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Egypt. N.d.c. Ministry of Defense. "Cases of Exemption from Military Service ." Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 29 June 2018]

Egypt. N.d.d. Ministry of Defense. "Exclusions from Military Service and Required Documents ." Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 29 June 2018]

Egypt. N.d.e. Ministry of Defense. "Guidelines for Terminating the Conscription Status of Citizens who Evaded Conscription Relevant to Individuals over the Age of 30 ." Translated by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada. [Accessed 29 June 2018]

Germany. 11 December 2014. Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. "ZIRF - Counselling Form for Individual Enquiries ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Khaleej Times. 8 March 2018. Ahmed Shaaban. "Egyptians Skipping Military Can Pay Fine Here ." [Accessed 18 July 2018]

Middle East Eye (MEE). 28 November 2016. "Egypt's Army: The Conscripts Who Refuse to Serve ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Middle East Eye (MEE). 21 October 2016. "'It is Hell': Chronicles of Military Conscripts in Egypt ." [Accessed 5 July 2018]

The New Arab. 6 April 2015. Aziz al-Afandi. "Conscripts with Connections Get Easy Military Service in Egypt ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

No to Compulsory Military Service Movement (NoMilService). 18 June 2015. "Exemption of the Two COs Mark Nabil and Mostafa Ahmed ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Orient XXI. 25 February 2016. Hussam Rabie. "En Égypte, l'armée tente de militariser la jeunesse ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Orient XXI. 5 June 2013. "Pourquoi ce site ? " [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Qantara.de. 21 November 2016. Sofian Philip Naceur. "Conscientious Objection in Egypt: Playing the System ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Qantara.de. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 11 July 2018]

United States (US). 12 July 2018. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Egypt." The World Factbook . [Accessed 3 July 2018]

War Resisters' International (WRI). N.d. "Maikel Nabil Sanad ." [Accessed 6 July 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources:Egypt – Consulate in Montreal, Embassy in Washington, DC.

Internet sites, including:Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Factiva; The Guardian; Human Rights Watch; International Federation for Human Rights; UN – Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Refworld.