On 8 September 2016, the Cabinet of Egypt approved an alarming draft NGO law that is currently under review by the Egyptian Council of State. In light of the worrisome content of the draft law that violates both the Constitution and international human rights instruments, on 29 September 2016, Alkarama sent a communication to the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (SR FPAA). The letter first informs the Special Rapporteur of the draft law problematic provisions, such as the strict control of National Security Services over the funds and activities of associations, and requested his urgent intervention with the Egyptian authorities to prevent this draft law from being enacted as long as it does not comply with international human rights law.
The draft NGO law, entitled “proposed amendments to Law No. 84 of 2002 on non-governmental organizations”, brings about changes in the way NGOs would operate in the country, implement activities, receive funds and are overseen by State administrative agencies. Namely, it mandates an “administrative body” and an “executive committee” – the latter being also composed of representatives of the National Security Services and the Ministry of Interior – to oversee applications for registrations and to monitor NGOs’ funding and activities. The setting up of such an executive committee means that intelligence and security services would, once more, be at the forefront of monitoring NGOs. The law further restricts NGOs’ activities and efficiency, by allowing administrative bodies to assess their registration application, but also by compelling them to follow complicated administrative procedures to carry out their activities and receive funds. It further allows for State agencies’ interference in the work of these associations, for instance by compelling NGOs to operate exclusively in the interest of what is vaguely referred to as “Egyptian social needs”. If passed and enacted, this new draft NGO law will not only contravene international human rights law instruments mandating for the right to freely exercise the fundamental rights of association and peaceful assembly; it shall additionally be at odds with the 2014 Egyptian Constitution, specifically its article 75 advocating for the right of associations to freely practice their activities.
The law has already been widely criticised by several human rights activists in Egypt. “This new law, if implemented, is likely to be used as a tool of repression and strict control, by the State, over the exercise of the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, which has already been sensibly jeopardised in Egypt in recent years,” commented Rachid Mesli, Alkarama’s Legal Director. In view of this, Alkarama fears that this draft law will be used to further repress Egyptian citizens’ rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly. It therefore sent a communication to the SR FPAA to inform him of these problematic legal provisions and to ask his urgent interventions before this law be enacted. Alkarama also calls on the Egyptian authorities to review this draft law and to bring it in line with international human rights instruments.
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