Via Kristen Chick with Christian Science Monitor: Egypt quietly stifles NGOs by cutting off foreign cash flow:

Cairo is using a law that requires government approval of all foreign funding of domestic nongovernmental organizations to block the delivery of grants, forcing NGOs to curb their work for lack of funds.

… Employees of nongovernmental organizations say the government is refusing to approve most of the outside grants they receive to run programs in Egypt, forcing some to lay off staff or cut salaries, and keeping them from the work they were founded to do. Many say the situation is worse now, under President Mohamed Morsi, than it was under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime was notoriously hostile to civil society.

 

… NGO workers say it is usually Egypt’s state security that makes the decision to deny approval, even though the law does not give them a role in the process, and the rejections often come without explanation.

 

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) recently laid off more than half its staff because of the lack of funding, says Hafez Abu Saeda, EOHR chief…

 

… His organization also recently received a letter from the ministry stating that no “local entity” is allowed to engage with “international entities” without permission from “security bodies,” on instructions from the prime minister.

 

… Even organizations working on the environment have been affected. Nature Conservation Egypt was awarded a grant for core funding, but the ministry has not approved it… “It’s very risky planning out a project and you’re not sure when you’re going to get approval for the funding. It hinders productivity greatly, and it’s quite surprising that these restrictions might become even more stringent in the next law.”

… Restricting the funding, and therefore activities, of civil society in Egypt means fewer jobs and opportunities for Egyptians, said Mindy Baha el Din, development director at NCE, in an e-mail. “The money goes to other countries that are more open and have an active civil society. This lack of opportunities means Egyptians fall behind in development,” she said. “This also means that NGOs can’t help to address serious social economic or environmental issues. The government can’t do it all alone.… NGOs are some of the best vehicles to address such problems at the grassroots level.”

 

… civil society plays a crucial role keeping government accountable that can’t afford to be lost. “Who highlighted the torture done by police and Morsi supporters in Ittihadeya? NGOs. Who highlighted corruption under Mubarak and now? NGOs.”

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Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies: Morsi’s government must withdraw bill to nationalize civil society from Shura Council and reject FJP bill to stifle human rights organizations

… The government is repressing the right of civil society organizations to freely carry out their activities through arbitrary limitations on their financial resources and security interference in their work, as seen in the statement directed at “local entities” by the prime minister warning them against participating in any activities with what he called “foreign bodies” without obtaining permission to do so from the security apparatus – despite the fact that there is no legal basis for this…

 

… The president’s party and government employ the same justifications and claims used by the Mubarak regime as a pretext for campaigns of repression or in order to pass more repressive laws…

 

When the Muslim Brotherhood was part of the opposition, prior to the revolution, they did not ask about the funding sources of human rights groups that earnestly defended the rights of Brotherhood members and leaders – including their right to a fair trial before a neutral judge rather than a military court. But with the Brotherhood in the seat of power, for the first time in Egypt’s history the Constitution includes provisions for the trial of civilians in military courts, and now the Brotherhood is seeking to end the funding and activities of human rights organizations. The Brotherhood is no longer the victim; rather, the people have become the victim of the Brotherhood’s repressive policies.

22 Signatories: Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-violence Studies, Arab Network for Human Rights Information, Arab Penal Reform Organization, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Center for Appropriate Communication Techniques (ACT), Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Aid, Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services, Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Group for Human Rights Legal Assistance, Habi Center for Environmental Rights, Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners, Land Center for Human Rights, Masriyon Against Religious Discrimination, Nazra for Feminist Studies, New Woman Foundation.