Egypt’s draft NGO law bans independent civil society groups


egypt-azza-solimanA new law drafted by Egypt’s parliament would effectively prohibit independent non-governmental groups in the country by subjecting their work and funding to control by government authorities, including powerful security agencies, Human Rights Watch said:

On November 28, the State Council, a judicial body that reviews legislation, approved the draft, paving the way for parliament to send it immediately to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to sign into law. … Maina Kiai, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said on November 23, that the law would “devastate the country’s civil society for generations to come and turn it into a government puppet.” the draft resembles one proposed by al-Sisi’s government in 2014, and shelved after broad criticism…. would affect 47,000 local and 100 foreign groups working in Egypt, according to government estimates. Nasser Amin, a member of the quasi-governmental National Council for Human Rights, called the draft “disastrous.”….

A Cairo criminal court presiding over the politically motivated investigation, which targets human rights groups critical of the government, froze the assets of three groups and five human rights defenders in September. The authorities have also banned more than a dozen prominent human rights defenders from leaving the country, a likely prelude to filing criminal charges.

In November alone, three human rights defenders were told by Cairo International Airport authorities that they could not travel: human rights lawyer Ahmed Ragheb, women’s rights defender Azza Soliman (above), and anti-torture activist Aida Seif al-Dawla. Dr. al-Dawla cofounded the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, which was ordered to shut down in February. The government froze its assets [a freeze since lifted] earlier in November. Dr. al-Dawla received the top Human Rights Watch honor in 2004.


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