EOHR welcomes the draft law on NGOs submitted by the Ministry of Solidarity

April 8th, 2019 by Editor

EOHR welcomes the draft law on NGOs submitted by the Ministry of Solidarity

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) welcomes the draft law that regulates the civil work. This law was prepared by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which decided to abolish Law 70 of 2017 instead of modifying it as it includes a series of violations of the right to assembly and organization.

It is noteworthy that the organization has called for the abolishment of this law and the enactment of an alternative law in order to promote civil work in Egypt and guarantees the right to freedom of association as soon as possible in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution and international human rights instruments. In addition to the Egyptian government’s commitment to the International Council for Human Rights which was demonstrated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.
In this context, the organization has formed a committee following the invitation of the Egyptian Organization to interact with the initiative of the President regarding the NGOs Law. The committee ended up adhering to the draft law that was presented by Dr. Ghada Wali, Minister of Social Solidarity.
The new draft law, which was approved by the Ministry of Solidarity and the Council of Ministers, is consistent with the provisions of article 75 of the Constitution,(which allows associations to be established with notification) and international standards related to the exercise of civil work.
The most important features are demonstrated in the unification of the bodies entrusted with overseeing the civil society institutions, to be represented in one authority as well as the organization of the practice of the civil work in a comprehensive manner, by encouraging the establishment of associations, civil institutions, federations, regional organizations and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are authorized to work in Egypt and enhance their role in the public interest.
Moreover, the law stipulates on the activation of voluntary work and permits non-Egyptians who reside permanently or temporarily to participate in the membership of the association or its board of directors not exceeding 25% of its members, additionally, it allowed the associations to open branches outside Egypt in accordance with the controls set by the executive regulation of this law, subjected to obtaining a license from the competent minister.
The draft law requires associations to open a bank account in one of the banks controlled by the central bank, and to grant the associations the right to receive cash from inside the state whether from natural or legal persons of Egypt or foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) authorized to work inside Egypt. Furthermore, it allows anyone who invites the public to collect donations in cash and in kind as well as the right of civil society organizations, to dispose of such donations after obtaining a permit from the administrative body, and the right to accept and receive funds, grants and donations from natural or legal persons of foreign or Egyptian origin, from abroad or from natural or legal persons from the country after notifying the administrative authority.
The association shall be committed to integrity, transparency, disclosure of its sources of funding and follow the rules of good governance. The draft law also did not include any penalties depriving of freedom, also the donations to the societies shall be considered as a charge to the donor’s income, not exceeding 10% of his net income, and exemption from customs duties and other duties levied on the imported equipment.
The organization asserts that the NGOs Law No. 70 of 2017, articles 87 and 88, include penalties depriving of freedom, which are excessive penalties as well as it should not impose penalties for the violations in the civil work, where the law stipulates on penalties up to five years and a fine up to one million pounds for those working in the civil work.
The organization refers to the ruling issued by the Criminal Court in the case of foreign financing, which is the most famous issue in Egypt for NGOs, in which 43 defendants of foreign and Egyptian nationalities were tried. These organizations work legally even if they do not obtain a license because they already notified the authority with its existence and its work. Thus, the funding was legitimate as long as they notified the Government with it.
The organization calls for proposing the project of the Ministry of Solidarity for Community Dialogue in order to enable NGOs to express their ideas and to participate in the drafting of a law that will help them work freely, remove the legal, administrative and financial obstacles facing their work, as well as the disengagement between them and the administrative bodies, so the Egyptian judiciary will have the final decision in this matter.
For his part, Dr. Hafez Abu Saeda, the organization’s president, confirms that the NGO Law no. 70 of 2017 contradicts in detail with the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution which guaranteed the right to organize as well as international conventions on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This law also contravenes with Egypt’s international obligations, including the International Council for Human Rights, which means that it contradicts with article 93 of the Constitution that obliges the state to abide by international human rights conventions and covenants ratified by Egypt and become the force of the law after publication in accordance with the prescribed conditions.
Abu Saeda explained that the world is progressing in strengthening the role of civil society organizations and civil society in quick and serious steps. Therefore, we must strive to keep pace with this development, through actions, not words.

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