A statement by the Coalition of Freeing Civil Work in Egypt during the press conference

March 28th, 2010 by Editor

The human rights organizations which signed this statement express their deepest worries on  the new bill of NGOs prepared by the Ministry of Social Solidarity which brought it before  the Council of Ministers for approval, in the preparation for submitting it to People’s Assembly and Shura Council. They confirmed that the bill ignored the recommendations concerned with NGOs’ law issued by UN Human Rights Council within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review for Egypt‘s file on the situation of human rights.

 

 

The organizations confirm that the proposed law constitutes a clear restriction on NGOs’ activities in Egypt in general and on human rights organizations  in particular, as it imposes restrictions on NGOs’ work such as establishment, administration, funds, and dissolving by administrative decision, most of these restrictions are as follows:

 

 

Firstly: Imposing restrictions on the establishment of NGOs, in addition to the overwhelming of registration and foundation prerequisites, the registration may need unnecessary requirements, in some case these requirements are contradicting to NGOs’ freedom.

 

 Secondly: Imposing restrictions on NGOs through monitoring the administration and activities of  NGOs. This is clear through the state’s intervention in the financial and administrative affairs for NGOs the matter which confirms the executive authority’s intervention on these NGOs.  

 

 

Thirdly: linking the access to finance by the approving of the competent Administration, which leads to increase the competent administration’s control over NGOs, specially those which defend  human rights, as they are attacking The governmental violations.

 

 

Fourthly: Article No. 34 of the law gave the competent minister the right to dissolve  any NGO, in stead of giving it to a competent court. the Main objection here is that the competent minister is the representative for the executive authority, which means that the executive authority not the judicial is the dominant over the NGOs.

 

Fifthly: violation of the new bill to constitutional principles like: Individual penalty principle and the general rules of the criminal Legislation such as the duplication of penalty (punishment on both Criminal and administrative levels) .

 

 

The new suggested bill is  of the same approach of the law no.84 of 2002, in hegemony and restriction to the NGOs, but it adds a new Restrictions as follows:

 

 1-Closing the civil non profitable institutions and companies:

 

 

The new bill banned the civil companies from work due to considering it as semi-NGOs, so to cut off the road in front of these semi-NGOs from being able to be converted to a real effective NGOs. Article no.3 of the New bill stated that “It is banned for any authority except the competent Authority, according to the provisions of the  law, to license the practicing of any activity related to NGOs, this license will be non existent since the time it is issued on”.

 

2-Imposing more restrictions on the establishment of  NGOs:

The new bill has conditioned the necessity of the membership of the NGO to the Regional Union in addition to the approving of Social Solidarity Ministry, for the founding of the NGOs (articles no. 5-50). Article No. 5 stated that “A summary of the internal statute of the NGO shall be placed in the specified place in the application and shall be presented to the regional union which is founded according to the provisions of the law”. After the approving of the Regional Union to the application, the Regional Union will inform the competent administration to approve it. The legal personality of the NGO will be confirmed the second day to the registration of it’s internal statute.

 

3-The proposed bill limited the work fields’ of the NGOs by only two fields, and if more the Regional Union shall approve them and the competent administration shall be notified.

 

Article No.9 stated that “It is not permitted for any NGO to work in more than two fields, and if more the Regional Union shall approve them and the competent administration shall be notified.”

 

4-The bill assigned the authority of dissolving of the NGOs to the competent minister in stead of the competent court and a final Judicial decision.

 

Article no.42 stated that “Dissolving  NGOs may take place after the approval of the of the General Federation, according to the rules stated in it’s internal statute, one judicial liquidator or more will be assigned, the period of the liquidation and the fees of the liquidator will be defined as well.”

 

 

5- The continuity of the restrictions upon receiving funds.

The new bill continued it’s restrictions on banning the NGO from it’s right to get external funds, except after the permission of the ministry. Article no. 13 stated that “The NGO has the right to accept funds from inside the republic, from the normal Egyptian or foreign persons, and from the Egyptian legal personalities and the international organizations which is licensed to practice NGOs’ activities, according to the provisions of this law. In all cases any NGO shall not take any funds from outside borders whether it is from Egyptian, foreigner, foreign Organization or whoever represent it in Egypt, the Egyptian NGOs also Are not able to send any funds to outside borders, unless the competent Minister gives his permission or after the passing of 30 days without a written objection from him, with the exception of books, newsletters, scientific or art magazines, or the membership’s fees.

 

6-The interference in the NGO’s work with the stopping of it’s Activities, in case of violating the law.

The bill gave the competent administration the right to stop the NGO’s Activities after General Federation’s agreement.                     

  

Article 35 of the bill  provided that ” The competent administrative authority  may  issue a decision to cancel the dissent act or remove the causes of dissent  act or stop it , after hearing the statements of NGOs , and the approval of the General Federation for NGOs”, in the following cases:

 
– NGOs’  allocation of funds in different  purposes that they are created for.

– Receiving funds from abroad or  sending money abroad  in a violation of the  provision of  the second paragraph of Article (13) of this law.

– If NGOs  Commit a grave breach for the law  as the existence of deficit or embezzlement, and waste of public money  
or violating the  public order or morals. 
– NGOs’ Joining  or participating  in a  club or association or institution or organization located  outside the Arab Republic of Egypt in violation of the provision of Article (12) of this law.

– To verify that the activities of NGOs  are not legal according to article 10 of this law.

– Collecting donations in violation of the provision of the first paragraph of Article (14) of this law.
  The General Assembly is not held for two consecutive years.

– To hinder the competent  administration to  follow-up its work or to move to a new premises without notifying the competent administration.

 
The administrative authority may issue a decision to dissolve the board of trustees according to the approval of the General Federation for NGOs and civil institutions if NGO continues to commit any violations provided in the last paragraph and to appoint  a provisional board according to the provisions of this law in a maximum period of ninety days from the date of the separation.

 
7. Forcing NGOs to join  the General Federation for NGOs and the Regional and Qualitative  Unions, and even impose sanctions on organizations that will not take this approach during the period of 3 months,  
Also NGOs were asked to submit an annual report on the activities to the regional union and a copy to the general federation for NGOs. If NGO doesn’t join to the regional union’s membership during 3 months to prove its legal personality, the competent administration may issue a decision to stop its activities till joining the regional union’s membership.

  

On the other hand, it is not allowed to create more than qualitative union for NGOs’ activities and a central qualitative union is allowed to be established with branches as article 62 provided.

 
8. The Executive authority’s  intervention  in the formation of General Federation and Qualitative and Regional Unions.
  

The bill gave the executive authority representative in  the President of the Republic and the competent minister the power to appoint members of the Board of trustees of both the Regional and qualitative unions and the general federation for NGOs . As for the regional union, Article 59 provided that “The regional union’s members are 15 members including 5 members appointed by the competent minister while others are elected. As for the Qualitative union , article 63 provided that” The qualitative union’s members are 15 members including 5 members appointed by the competent minister . As for  the General Federation for NGOs, article 65 provided that 30 members undertake the administration of the General Federation as the president appoints 10 members who are interested in social issues while others are elected from the board of regional and qualitative unions through  a General Assembly which is held by the end of board’s period every 3 years. 

 

9. Dominating  the international organizations working in Egypt. 

The bill has specialized the fourth chapter for this organizations, it  gave the license for practicing the activity to the competent minister after the approval  of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then the competent administration side will determine  the activities which  the international organizations will practice as article 55 provided. Also The competent minister has the right to abolish the activity or the license of the organization in Egypt( Article 56).

 

 10. Expansion of the powers of the General Federation for NGOs.  

 The bill  gave a new powers for the General Federation for NGOs to  propose amendments on NGOs’ law and issuing such decisions which facilitate the application of the law and also receiving fund. Article 63 provided that” The General Federation for NGOs assumes  the necessary studies to provide funding for the associations and institutions for the development of resources, and to make contacts with interior and exterior sides to help providing aids and supports and to propose amendments to the legislation governing the work of civil work and to  issue resolutions necessary to achieve the flexibility “.

  

11. Imposing sever penalties. 

The bill sentences everyone established an entity which practices NGOs’ activities even if they are  legal  to 6 months imprisonment and the  fine ( Article 72). Also the law punishes members of NGOs’ board of trustees in case of receiving money from abroad or practicing activities of dissolved NGO or receiving fund as a board’s member or spending money without permission ( article 72). 

The under signed organizations confirmed that they are before a new attempt by the ministry of social solidarity to

tighten the  grip on civil work in Egypt,  the amendments aim primarily for  achieving  3 main goals as follows:

  

I: To tighten the control on the activity of the registered NGOs by adding jurisdictions   for the Regional Unions and General Federation for NGOs to evaluate NGO’s activities and to interfere in their daily work, as well as to approve on receiving  fund, or registering  of new NGOs,  and unions are to be charged with receiving documents required for the registration of NGOs  and submitted to the administrative authority, as well as to set conditions to join unions coercively or the activities will be stopped.

  

II: Ending the work of the non profitable civil companies and Institutes, according to article No.3 of the bill, knowing that these legal Forms became commonly known in different legal systems.

 

III: The complete submission of any international organization which work  in Egypt, to the competent Administration, in addition to the ability to stop the activities and canceling the license of these international organizations by an administrative decree, knowing that there are a number of Egyptian and regional organizations of international roots, which work in Egypt, such as (the Egyptian Organization For Human Rights, the Arab Lawyers Federation, Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies, the Arab Center For the independence  for Judiciary and legal profession.

  

The undersigned NGOs call the MPs upon giving the bill the Sufficient time to: be well discussed, to comment on it’s defective articles and to be able to adopt a suitable stand against this bill, enable us to change the defective articles included in it and to try to limit the Subordination of the competent administration  on NGOs’ work, the matter which makes  the elected General Assembly of these NGOs will be the main controller of their activities. This bill threatens the NGOs  work in Egypt, although these NGOs are a fundamental partner for the government in development and democratic reform process. The undersigned NGOs also call all civil society organizations and NGOs representatives, which work in all governorates upon adopting an effective mechanism and to work together against this bill. These efforts are devoted for defending the right to assembly and association, which is guaranteed by the international covenants for human rights. Achieving this aim leads to the Founding of a free effective civil society, which will be able to promote democracy and human rights in Egypt.  

 

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2010 at 4:06 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.