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HRW criticises new Egyptian bill which further regulates NGOs

November 29, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Human Rights Watch has urged Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to not approve a draft bill that will further regulate civil society, the group said in a statement yesterday.

Egypt’s State Council approved the bill’s draft yesterday allowing parliament to send the draft to Al-Sisi directly to sign into law.

In the statement, the group called on the Egyptian government to draft a new bill through consulting with non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) amid fears that the new bill will be yet another crackdown on civil society.

“Egypt’s parliament is trying to dodge public scrutiny by rushing into force a law that would effectively ban what remains of the country’s independent civil society groups,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said.

“If this law passes, it would be a farce to say that Egypt allows ‘non-governmental’ organisations, since all would be subject to the security agencies’ control.”

The draft bill submitted earlier this month will further regulate civil society by forcing NGOs to seek a permit from the state before carrying out any research. This will affect around 47,000 local and 100 international groups working in Egypt, HRW warned in the statement.

The bill will enforce a type of “national authority” which will comprise of security services, intelligence and armed representatives who will be responsible for overseeing foreign funds and the activities of foreign NGOs.

Amnesty International has called the draft a “death warrant” adding to concerns voiced by many human rights groups of the consequences the law will bring.

Earlier this year, five prominent human rights defenders and three NGOs had their assets frozen after being investigated for allegedly receiving foreign funds in 2011.