November 30, 2016

Egyptian State Council Approved A Bill Regulating And Restricting NGOs


On 28 November 2016, a bill regulating and restricting non-government organizations (NGOs) operating in Egypt was approved by the Egyptian State council. This bill would require NGOs to "agree with the state's plan, development needs and priorities" and ensure that "all data on financing sources, activities, protocols, and programmes" is reported to the government. Moreover, the bill would restrict the work areas of NGOs, exclude work that covers political parties and require NGOs to receive permission from the Egyptian government before conducting activities such as fieldwork or surveys. NGOs that violate the proposed law will have to face a maximum prison sentence of five years. After the State Council’s approval, the bill can be directly sent to the president for signature and would be in force once it has been signed. There has been heavy criticism on the bill by human rights groups. In a statement, Human Rights Watch criticized that the bill has been rushed through the parliament in secrecy and stated that it would not be possible to operate a non-government organization in Egypt after law passes as all activities would in reality be controlled by the government.

On 14 November 2016, the Egyptian legislature approved the bill; it also received heavy criticism from human rights groups. Recently, in general, Egypt has been under fire for violating human rights and trying to silence protests. In September 2016, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Maina Kiai warned that the Egyptian government "seems to be systematically attacking civil society in an effort to silence its voice." In June 2016, assets of five human rights activists and three NGOs were frozen by an Egyptian court for allegedly accepting unauthorized funds from foreign countries.

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