Oppressive law to strangle civil society: joint statement
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Several NGOs signed a joint press statement Wednesday expressing their concerns regarding the latest law draft of the Ministry of Social Solidarity for regulating NGOs.

The signing NGOs believed that the draft law is a flagrant violation of the constitution and Egypt’s international obligations. If adopted, it would criminalize the NGO operations and make it subordinate to government and security bodies, shutting the public sphere in Egypt to all but the current regime supporters, according to the Wednesday statement.

The NGOs demanded President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi not to approve this draft law or any others that contradict with the constitution or Egypt’s international obligations.

Passing the protest law in Nov. 2013 led to the imprisonment of several prominent human rights activists and supporters, some for periods reaching 15 years. If the new draft law of NGOs is passed, independent human rights activists can also be imprisoned for periods reaching 15 years.

Some of the signing NGOs received an invitation from the General Federation of Civic Associations and Foundations, sponsored by Minister of Social Solidarity, to attend a social dialogue about a new draft law for NGOs at the ministry on June 26.

The ministry previously formed a committee in July 2013 in which some NGOs participated to make a relatively better draft law compared to all draft laws suggested by the government.

The draft law suggested by the committee should have been improved and made more consistent with international standards but the government did not intend to issue it, according to the statement.

The suggested draft aimed to improve its image in the international society by using it as evidence that the transitional government – succeeding ousted President Mohamed Morsi – intended to be democratic and enhance the role of civil society.

The government decided that the mission of the previous draft law was denied and chose instead the most oppressive draft law in 50 years since law 32 for 1964, the statement reported.

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, and Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights are among the signing NGOs.

Head of the Regional Federation of Civic Foundations in Ismailia Al-Sayed Mohsen announced that Ismailia is hosting a workshop to study the amendments of the NGOs draft law. The workshop will be in cooperation with the General Federation of Civic Associations and Foundations and through the participation of seven governorates Al-Wafd reported.

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