Egypt’s civil society fighting back against Brotherhood’s anti-NGO law.
Via today’s Egypt Independent: New draft law would limit the scope of work of NGOs:
The Social Affairs Ministry has finished drafting a new NGO law and will now send it to the Shura Council for approval. The new law, much like the draft protest law, has brought about widespread criticism and condemnation from human rights groups, NGOs, and other civil society actors.
It would require some 40,000 NGOs to “legalize” their status and address funding issues retroactively. Article 3 states that all funds and donations received by organizations from inside and outside Egypt will be considered “public funds”; Article 16 bans NGOs from receiving foreign funds without prior approval from a “coordination committee” made up of representatives from various ministries and Egypt’s general intelligence agency.
Mohamad al-Ansary, a lawyer with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, says that “it is well-known that most local and international NGOs receive funding from abroad to finance their projects and programs, and they are [already] required to notify the government and specifically the Social Affairs Ministry of the funds received” so the new regulations are meant to hinder the work of NGOs. The law also places a capital requirement of $250 thousand on organizations known as “institutions,” which would force many current “institutions” to restructure, limiting their ability to achieve their goals.
Al-Ansary says this leaves them with two alternatives: “to halt operations, or to come up with the money – which is unlikely.” He added that Article 7, stipulating organizations receive approval from the social affairs ministry within 60 days of submitting notification of their formation, is unconstitutional as it contradicts Article 1 of the constitution. Article 20 of the new law allows ministry officials to review the books of NGOs. If passed, the law would allow the government to strongly interfere with NGOs daily activities, forbid organizations from carrying out opinion polls, or any development or humanitarian activities without first obtaining permission from security forces. – Summary by Project on Middle East Democracy
CIHRS’s Mohamad al-Ansary added: “This will definitely harm the future of civil society, which will now be controlled by military men… Besides, how come donations are considered public funds if they are originally private money?”
Additionally, Mohamed al-Agaty, executive director of the Arab Forum for Alternatives, says “the draft law reflects the government’s poor understanding of an NGO’s function and the culture of civil society work.”
“After he rose to power, Morsy emphasized that democracy has three pillars: the judiciary, the media and civil society. The first two suffered and continue to suffer under the current regime through smear campaigns organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and from decisions and legislation that limit their actions. Now it is the NGOs’ turn to suffer…”
From the Arab Forum for Alternatives: The Proposed Law for Civil Associations and Institutions, 2013 A Model for Oppressive Laws and a Recreation of the Authoritarian System
Brave Egyptians fight every day for democracy, human right and dignity.
Have we heard anything from leading members of the National Salvation Front about the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-NGO law?