Civil society organizations’ meeting at the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Consensus over the new law of associations.

October 10th, 2013 by Editor

Civil Society representatives and experts have agreed upon the draft law of associations prepared by the high committee formed by the Ministry of Social Solidarity on the light of a workshop prepared by The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and the Ministry of Social Solidarity yesterday, October 9, 2013. They have stressed on the importance of providing guarantees for the freedom of the civil work in Egypt like the easy establishment of associations, legislative authority should be responsible of the arbitration of conflicts and problems, and to avoid assigning punishments that hinders freedom.

Dr. Ahmed Al- Boreai, Minister of Social Solidarity, has inaugurated the workshop emphasizing the existence of disagreements over some articles in the draft law, which is considered to be a natural thing; as people disagree over established laws. Furthermore, he has stressed on the importance of hearing all opinions to know the different trends of thought.

Al-Boreai has further added that he has been pro establishing monitoring before; but due to the current social change, there is a trend towards consensus over the new law to be established in compliance with international standards for Human Rights. Also, he had added that this law is considered one of the most important laws that will be passed during this period.

Hafez Abu Seada, President of EOHR, has asserted that, “We are pro freeing civil society without undermining the security of the Egyptian State; therefore we are striving towards enabling civil society to perform its work and duty. This draft law facilitates the establishment of civil society association, as well as making the legislative authority as the sole arbiter of any problems between the government and civil society.”

He has further added that a high committee was formed by the Ministry of Social Solidarity to propose amendments to the Associations law of 84/ year 2002; this committee encompassed 18 distinctive persons from different civil society organizations, so that the law should be established according to points of view of civil society stakeholders and interest groups.

Dr. Ayman Abd Al- Wahab, an Expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, has asserted that it’s of everybody’s interest to propose a new law to push civil society work and societal dialogue forward, also it’s necessary that civil society should agree on one purpose and that the law should foster the idea of civil work.

Dr. Abd Al- Wahab has further added that government should monitor money movement, not the activities and goals of civil organizations. In addition, the dialogue should not be confined to civil society associations, but other groups like public and regional associations should participate in that dialogue to propose their points of view.

Dr. Abd Al-Wahab has concluded his speech through stressing on the necessity of taking into account the surrounding environment of civil society, the importance of transparency, facilitating the establishment of civil society associations as well as the reference to youth representation, organizing the process of volunteering in civil society and improving the administrative hierarchy within civil society organizations, establishing specialized associations for capacity building,  attaching local laws to improving the work of civil associations to be effective, and increasing fines in the case of the occurrence of any violations related to the activities of civil associations. Finally, he stressed that the high committee that proposed the law should put the executive regulations of the new law.

From his side, Essam Sheha, member at the high board of Al-Wafd Party, has asserted that a real youth representation in civil society should exist, especially after their great role and efforts during 25th of January Revolution and 30th of June Revolution. He has also stressed on the importance of the law to be a catalyst for the businessmen to play a role in the civil work.

Moreover, Sheha has demanded the government to provide civil society associations especially developmental organizations, with their right of obtaining information; as access to information is a vital thing in building civil associations and raising awareness of the different groups within the society.

Ahmed Abd Al-Hafez, Cassation Lawyer and Vice President of EOHR, has asserted that, “monitoring the establishment of any association should be available; as discovering the scandal of the MBs when they have taken a huge amount of money from Qatar should have been monitored, penalties should have been inflicted upon the MB, and it should have been dissolved. Also, the establishment of civil society associations should be fostered; as this is more important than giving these organizations the right of freedom of establishment.”

In addition, Farida Al-Naqash, Chief Editor of AL-Ahaly Journal, has commended the new law of associations. She has added that the new law is considered to be one of the positive outcomes of the 25th of January Revolution as well as its second wave in 30th of June; as the number of many restrictions and hindrances in the Associations Law of no. 84/ 2002 were overcome, and the new philosophy of the new law is based on launching the right of free assembly and organization.

Additionally, Farid Zharan, President of Al-Mahrosa Center, has referred to the existence of some civil society organizations that have no role in the streets as was the case in the early 20th century; therefore the state should foster the civil work in Egypt in order to free civil society from its imposed isolation. Also, he has demanded the state to support civil society in Egypt to overcome its deteriorated situation.

Rahma Refaat, Vice President of Syndicates and Labor Services, has referred to the urgent need of a democratic draft law based on consensus; as a possibility to improve civil society on a real ground, fostering freedom of association, fostering societal dialogue and negotiations, as well as the existence of social network to facilitate participation in the decision making process and policy formulation should be provided in the new law. Also, she stressed that the new constitutions should encompass the right of free formation and organization of associations without authority interference.

 

Finally, Hazem Mounir, President of the Egyptian Organization for Training, has explained that civil society abusive environment is really dangerous; hence strict monitoring should be practiced over funding, as it’s a critical thing for the image of civil society organizations which may leave negative impact within the society. Also, he stressed on the necessity of proposing a consensual law that is respected by all civil society associations.

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