EOHR welcomes Al Sisi’s initiative to amend NGO law

November 5th, 2018 by Editor

EOHR welcomes Al Sisi’s initiative to amend NGO law

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) welcomes the initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to amend the notorious NGO law, law No. 70 of 2017. EOHR calls once more on the President and Parliament to repeal this law and draft a new one in line with Egypt’s constitution and Internationa legal obligations that supports and enhances the freedom of civil society in Egypt.

EOHR stresses that the current law contradicts Egypt’s obligations under the 2014 UPR recommendations on reforming civil society it received at the Human Rights Council.

EOHR has the following reservations on ill reputed Law. No. 70:

  1. Article 3 of the 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 permanent headquarters, which is open to legal interpretation which might obstruct the founder’s 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 exaggerated 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 receipt 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 development, 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 activities unless they violate the conditions of establishment, and the goals of the given NGO like engaging in political, partisan or union activities. 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 foreign 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 receiving donations without requesting approval from the government which may take up to 30 working days.
  12. Article 14 puts huge constraints on receiving foreign 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 article 4 of the law, as it subjects civil society organizations 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, foreign affairs, international cooperation, as well representatives of the intelligence 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 exaggerated penalty that will push people away from participating in civil society related activities.

 

Dr. Hafez Abu Seada the president of EOHR said that Law No. 70 existentially contradicts the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution and International Human Rights instruments and treaties including ICCPR

Abu Seada also demanded that a new law replace the current one, recommending the draft law prepared and submitted to parliament by the Ministry of social solidarity 2 years ago be the alternative.

 

 

 

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