April 23rd, 2012 by Editor
On April 23, 2012, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) held a meeting for discussing the governmental draft law of the local and international civil society organizations. The meeting was held at the headquarters of EOHR, 12 pm, in attendance of leaders of local civil society organizations.
The Egyptian Ministry of Social Insurance declared preparation of an amended draft of the law no. 84, year 2002. The governmental amended draft was declared, while many of the local and international civil society organizations came under one of the most aggressive defamation campaigns.
The attendees generally did not accept and criticized particularly the following:
First: the project aims at getting all the local and international civil society organizations under governmental control. It does not include any definition to “civil society organizations”. The draft law did not mention anything about the importance of civil society organizations in defending human rights in Egypt. Specifying the number of an NGO founders is not accepted and specifying the working fields of an NGO is not accepted too.
Second: the draft law restricts the freedom of founding and registration of new NGOs in order to have NOGs working only on charitable activities, completing the developmental role, which is naturally played by the governmental authorities. The international covenants signed by the Egyptian government mentions the freedom of assembly and forming NGOs, after only notifying the governmental authorities; a prior approval is not required.
Third: the draft law is aimed at turning the civil society organizations to local governmental units.
Fourth: the governmental draft law gives control on registration and activities of civil society organizations to the General and Regional NGOs Federations. According to the law, NGOs will not be allowed to defend the rights and interests of the Egyptian groups, for example the Private and Public Sectors’ employees.
Fifth: the law mentioned having 10 members in order to found a new NGO, which deprives activists with lower number from forming an NGO.
Sixth: the draft is free from any provisions enabling local and international civil society organizations from monitoring the governmental performance, loans, grants etc.
Seventh: the draft is free from any provisions related to tax exemptions, administrative and financial facilitations for NGOs.
Eighth: the draft is free from any provisions related to the role of NGOs in drafting the new law of local and international civil society organizations after the Egyptian revolution.
Ninth: the leaders of the civil society organizations denounced the governmental obligations on foundation or modification of the basic system of NGOs. NGOs must have the free rights to place their own constitutions and local rules.
Tenth: the law is free from any facilitation on donation and taxation exemptions for the donors.
Eleventh: the law is free from any provision related to supporting the activities implemented by NGOs in order to achieve transparency and defend human rights.
Twelfth: the leaders of the civil society organizations, who attended the open discussion workshop, refused imposing criminal punishments and imprisonment against the leaders of NGOs, who commit administrative mistakes. These criminal punishments should be decided only by courts, after guaranteeing the right to legal defense and fair trial.
Thirteenth: the draft does not comply with the international standards in connection with dismantling NGOs. NGOs can be dismantled upon either a court decision or the decision of the founders. The administrative authorities do not have the right to dismantle a local or international civil society organization.
By the end of the open discussion meeting, the participants stressed on promoting the draft law issued by EOHR and 120 civil society organizations in Egypt, providing the NGOs in Egypt with all the required safeguards for working freely. According to the draft law, a civil society organization is registered, following notifying the governmental authorities. It included also easier procedures for registration of a new foreign NGO. Local and international civil society organizations are allowed to participate in the national developmental planes. NGOs are free to form regional federations. The law cancels all the criminal punishments against the leaders of NGOs, because the law of NGOs is for organizing foundation and performance only. Local NGOs are allowed to join any legalized international coalitions.
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