EOHR Memorandum on NGOs’ Law to Shura Council

March 31st, 2013 by Editor

On March 31, 2013, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) has submitted an official memorandum to Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, head of the Egyptian Shura Council, including observations on the NGOs law prepared by the Egyptian government. EOHR aimed at provide the council with legal recommendations in order to have a law in line with the international human rights standards that guarantees freedom of association, assembly, expression, thought, and access to public information etc.

Observations:

          Article 1, chapter one, mentioned only humanitarian and developmental activities. It does not mention human rights defending, which is the most important role played by civil society.

          Article 11 necessitate obtaining official approval before conducting any projects, field researches or questionnaires, which puts the civil society organizations’ activities under control of the concerned bodies.     

          The draft law mentioned many financial requirements that are major obstacles before those who intend to establish new civil society organizations. The funds of NGOs, local and international, are considered public funds, article 3.

           Founders of a new NGO cannot be less than 20, which deprives groups of smaller numbers from establishing new NGOs, which does not comply with the new Egyptian constitution that guarantees freedom of association.

          The draft law gives the concerned body the rights to refuse registration of a new civil society organization and the founders are allowed to file a lawsuit against that official decision, exactly like the currently used law.

          Article 20 mentioned that the representatives of the concerned bodies have the right to visit the civil society organizations covered by this law to review its records, narrative and financial reports.

          The draft allows “imprisonment for a term of up to six months” and fines of up to £E 100,000 for a wide range of violations of the law, article 42.

          Article no. 57 legalizes the Egyptian security interference in the civil society organizations’ affairs. Coordination Board will be established to decide on the matters related to foreign finance and activities implemented by international civil society organizations in Egypt; this board will include security officials in addition to representatives of ministries of foreign relations, insurance and Central Bank of Egypt.

EOHR proposes some principals to be taken into consideration while amending the currently used law no. 84, year 2002:

1-      Freedom of establishing, registration and running NGOs:

          New NGOs are registered upon notifying the concerned bodies

          Unconditional registration of new local and international civil society organizations

          Allowing NGOs to handle all kinds of cultural, social, developmental, intellectual, professional and political activities that are not related to the political parties’ affairs.  

          Cancelling the right of concerned bodies to review narrative and financial documents of NGOs

          An NGO’s general assembly is the decision maker and the concerned bodies should have nothing to do with its decisions

2-      Dissolving NGOs:

          The concerned bodies should not have the right of dissolving NGOs or even freezing activities

          Imprisonments should not be given to the civil society organizations’ board members

          Forming and reactivation of reconciliation committees

3-      Finance:

          Freedom of finance in condition that NGOs notify concerned bodies and provide these bodies with enough information on source and amount of the fund and implemented activities

          NGOs activities are duty-free

          NGOs are allowed to receive funds and donations from local and international individuals or agencies

          NGOs are allowed to run profitable activities, but revenues have to be spent on NGOs’ activities and never distributed amongst members

4-      Freedom of Assembly and Expression:

          Meetings and activities of NGOs does not come under the restrictions of demonstration laws

          NGOs are allowed to issue publications, reports, statements, press releases and newsletters without prior permissions

5-      Joining international coalitions:

          NGOs are allowed to establish coalitions and networks following notification of the concerned bodies

          NGOs are allowed to join regional and international coalitions and networks

          NGOs are allowed to join the Public Federation of NGOs

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