Rights lawyer slams ‘killing’ of 124 dissolved Alexandria NGOs
Mohamed Zarea - YOUM7/Sami Waheeb
By NOURHAN MAGDI

CAIRO: Human Rights Lawyer Mohamed Zarea said Friday the recent governmental decision to dissolve 124 civil associations for their “stalled activities” was like “killing” them.

“These associations belong to the society and not the government, and coordination with them would have better than killing them,” Zarea told The Cairo Post Friday.

A decision to close 124 associations in Alexandria was ratified Monday by Alexandria governor Tareq Mahdy on grounds that the associations have had been inactive.

“The administrative [closure] decisions should be left for the last step, and start with dialogue with associations,” said Zarea.

A societal dialogue was repeatedly requested by a number of civil organizations operating in Egypt to discuss the recent decision by the Ministry of Solidarity that obliges all independent organizations to register under the 2002 law. A registration deadline was given to associations and expired on Nov. 10.

The closure of the Alexandria associations is believed have been ordered under the framework of the 2002 law, however, the NGOs were said to be registered entities under the law.

The law was highly criticized by local and international civil organizations which said the law would “strangle” civil society work in Egypt.

Many independent associations rejected the order to register under the law, and said it would impose difficulties for their financing and would turn them into quasi-governmental bodies.

As many associations rejected the governmental persistence to register under the law, while a new law is already under drafting process, some resorted to suspend or move their activities from Egypt.

Zarea, who is also the head of the Arab Penal Reform Organization, temporarily halted the activities of his organization in November. He previously told The Cairo Post that he would rather choose to close than to “be oppressed under [the law].”

On Dec. 9, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) announced it had decided to move its regional and international programs outside Egypt to Tunisia, due to what it described in a press statement as “ongoing threats to human rights organizations and the declaration of war on civil society.”

 

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