CAIRO: Neither Human Rights Watch nor Amnesty International have permits to work in Egypt, Hani Mahana, an advisor to the Ministry of Social Solidarity under the former government, told The Cairo Post Tuesday, confirming media reports.
Ministry officials told MENA as much on Tuesday, noting that 70 NGOs have work permits in Egypt and work freely in many fields.
“The organizations did not submit any permission to the government for working licenses; it could be due to the political unrest that Egypt witnessed during the transitional period,” Mahanna added.
“Amnesty International does not have an office or any staff permanently based in Egypt,” the organization told The Cairo Post via email. “We operate from London with frequent visits to Egypt. We systematically inform the authorities in advance about each visit, both through the ministry of foreign affairs and the embassy of Egypt in London.”
HRW was not immediately available for comment.
According to the Civil Society Law, the ministry shall be notified of the organization’s activities and its aims of working in Egypt and will then issue work permits.
Both organizations issued reports coinciding with the anniversary of the dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood at Rabaa al-Adaweya. The 188-page Human Rights Watch report described the dispersal as “crimes against humanity,” saying at least 1,000 people were killed.
The Amnesty report called the Rabaa dispersal a “massacre,” adding, “Egypt’s criminal justice system has been swift to arrest, try and sentence alleged former President Mohamed Morsi supporters after grossly unfair mass trials. Two hundred and thirty two have already been condemned to death and courts have recommended death sentences for over a thousand.”
Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, was toppled by the army on July 3, 2013 after mass protests called for the end of the Brotherhood regime. On December 25, 2013, the interim government designated the Brotherhood a terrorist group a day after bombings targeted the Security Directorate of Dakahlia, leaving 15 dead and more than 130 injured.
On December 30,2011, during the administration of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, security forces stormed five NGOs in Cairo: the Arab Center for Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP); the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory(BAHRO); and the U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI); the International Republican Institute; and Freedom House. The authority accused them of violating the funding terms of the organizing law.
The Amnesty International issued on Feb. 21, 2013 a statement condemned the Egyptian authorities for imposing a new law that “prohibits national NGOs’ contact with foreign organizations without prior permission from security bodies.”
“NGOs in Egypt already face staggering restrictions, but this instruction is a new low,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui in the statement.