Civil Society legistlation….. A blow to freedom of association

November 17th, 2016 by Editor

Civil Society legistlation….. A blow to freedom of association

The new legistlation puts strict legal constrains on civil society as it erodes the right to assemble and associate, which comes in clear violation of the Egyptian constitution, and international human rights conventions Egypt is party to.

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Egypt’s constitution stipulates in article (75) that “citizens have the right to form civil society organizations on a democratic basis, and attains legal personality once it notifies the authorities. They are to function freely and executive authorities are prohibited from impeding or disbanding them without a judicial verdict”.

Article (22) of the international covenant on civil and political rights that Egypt ratified gurantees the right to establish civil society organizations according to the following:

1) Every individual has the right to establish civil society groups and syndacites with other individuals for the purpose of safeguarding their collective interest.

2) No restrictions are to be placed on that right ecept in cases of emergency and necessity as stipulated by the law to protect public order and national security, and in that case law enforcement and military personel are still subject to legal constraints on their authority.

Despite all of this the Egyptian government has placed placed ristrictions on the existene of civil society through various legistlations, among them the infamous law of 1964 which was subject to strong domestic and international criticism. When the state worked on replacing that law it included civil society in the committee that drafted the replacement.

However the state issued a new law in 1999 (law 153) that largely ignored the contribution of civil society to the process, and in the year 2000 the Supreme Constitutional Court abrogated the law as it was unconstitutional.

In 2002 the 1999 law was redrafted as law (84) withouth much difference, and still administrative authorities had the right to intervene and obstruct the acitivities of civil society by so limiting their freedom. That spurred many calls from across Egyptian civil society to ammend the law, howeve this was met by a proposed bill from Egypt’s parliament recently the clearly contradicts Egypt’s constitution and international legal obligations.

Our reservations on the new proposed bills are as follows:

 

1) Article 3 of the draft law forces civil society organizations to draft their charters based on a model executive charter proposed by the draft, which is unconstitutional as the members have the right to freely create their own charter in accordance with Egyptian law.

2) The same article stipulated that the NGO has to have permenant headquarters, which is open to legal interpretation which might obstruct the founders ability to relocate if they wish to due to any circumstances.

3) Article 4 stipulates that founders of any given NGO have to be without any criminal records that have not been lifted by court order, which makes the establishment of an NGO subject to the criminal records of its founders.

4) Article 8 imposes a 10,000 LE registration fee on NGOs, which is an exagerated figure that cannot be afforded by certain socio-economic groups in society

5) Article 9 states that the entity seeking to be formed has to submit a reciept confirming the notification of the executive authorities with the exact date and time, and if the NGO fails to do so the authorities have the right to reject their application.

6) Article 9 stipulates that the executive authorities should examine the file of the proposal of establishment for up to 30 working days to make sure that the NGO will not pursue any illegal activities, and if the authorities deny the request, applicants have a right to appeal the decision in court, which places extra unnecessary burden on applicants.

7) Article 14 states that the NGOs should conduct activities in the fields of develpoment, and social welfare in accordance with the State’s plans and economic needs and priorities. It also says that the state may not ban an NGO’s acitivities unless they violate the conditions of establishment, and the goals of the given NGO like engaging in political, partisan or union acitivites. This means that the law limits the activities of civil society to certain fields and sectors.

8) Article 15 of the law subjects Chairmen, and board members of NGOs to the illicit profits law, which applies only to public funds, by that violating the constitution as funds belonging to NGOs are considered private.

9) Article 19 has an unconstitutional dimension as it stipulates that an NGO may cooperate or join in action that does not contradict its goals with another local or foriegn NGO after prior approval from the authorities.

10) Article 21 restricts an NGOs ability to open offices other than its headquarters, and subjects it to prior approval by authorities.

11) Article 23 prohibits NGOs from seeking or recieving donations without requesting approval from the government which may take up to 30 working days.

12) Article 14 puts huge constraints on recieving foriegn funding, as it requires approval from of the government represented in the minister related to the activity the funds are for. The process may take up to 30 working days, and an appeal in case of rejection may take up to 60 working day.

13) Article 27 contradicts atricle 4 of the law, as it sujects civil society organiztions to the executive branch of government.

14) The law says that a national agency will be established by the Egyptian President to regulate the affairs of international NGOs functioning in Egypt, and the agency will include representatives from the ministries of interior, defense, justice, foriegn affairs, international cooperation, as well representatives of the intellegence agency, the central bank, the money laundering unit, and the Administrative control agency.This presents a clear intervention of the State in the affairs of civil society.

15) Articles 87 and 88 stipulate imprisonment penalties that can reach up to 5 years in case of violation of this law, which is an exagerated penalty that will push people away from participating in civil society related activities.

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 5:51 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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