Monday 23 October 2017

Rights groups denounce Egypt NGO law

Rights groups denounce Egypt NGO law
(AFP 06/03/17)

Eight watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch, on Friday denounced Egypt's adoption of a contentious new law to regulate non-governmental organisations.

The rights groups urged the Egyptian government to repeal the law, ratified on May 24 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying it "will crush civil society".

"The law ushers in unprecedented levels of repression and will criminalise the work of many NGOs, making it impossible for them to function independently," said the statement released by HRW.

Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egyptian authorities have repressed all forms of opposition, at times targeting human rights organisations directly.

The new law requires that a "national authority" including army and intelligence representatives oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian NGOs and the activities of foreign ones.

"This new law represents a huge step backward for freedom of association in Egypt," said HRW's Middle East director Joe Stork.

"The Egyptian authorities have squeezed shut whatever limited space remained for non-governmental groups in Egypt and driven the human rights community underground," he added.

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, government and security officials have accused civil society of wanting to destabilise the country.

Several human rights defenders have been forbidden from travelling outside Egypt and have seen their assets frozen as part of an inquiry into foreign funding of civil society groups that started in 2011.

"It should not be a crime to advocate for human rights and development in Egypt, but this law does just that, crippling civil society for years to come," the statement said.

Signatories included the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) as well as the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

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