In a meeting discussing the new civil society associations law Civil Society Organizations reaffirm that some article in the new law need to be reviewed

August 7th, 2019 by Editor

In a meeting discussing the new civil society associations law

Civil Society Organizations reaffirm that some article in the new law need to be reviewed

A number of NGO representatives and experts held a meeting on Monday August 5th 2019 in collaboration with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) to discuss the new civil society law. The meeting convened in EOHR’s headquarters.

The attendees discussed the pros and cons of  the new law, stressing that the philosophy of this new law contradicts the philosophy of the previous law  No. 70 for the year 2017. The new law comes in line with Article (75) of the Constitution which stipulates that associations are established by notification, it also comes in accordance with relevant international standards of exercising civil society work. The new law abolished penalties involving deprivation of Liberty (imprisonment), limiting them to administrative and financial sanctions. The law also stressed that associations can only be dissolved by a court ruling and not an administrative decision.

A new section on volunteering has been introduced in the new law , where article 92 stipulates that ‘ the organization of volunteer work aims to encourage the spirit of initiative for community members and their positive participation in various activities of public interest and investment of their leisure time through volunteer work with the establishment of controls which ensures the protection of volunteers and groups benefiting from volunteer work and the executive regulations of this law specify the requirements of volunteering and rules and controls protecting volunteers and the benefits they receive and the groups benefiting from volunteering .

The attendees stressed that some articles of the new law need to be reviewed and  that the executive regulation should avoid the effects resulting from some restrictions the law contains. We have certain reservations on the law and they are:

  • Article (5) stipulates that non-Egyptians with permanent or temporary legal residency in Egypt may attain membership of an association or its board of directors however they cannot exceed 25% Of the number of board members, the executive regulations of this law clarify the controls on the membership of an Association Or its board of directors. The law’s limiting of the foreigner board membership to 25% only needs to be reconsidered especially that the boards of regional and international NGOs are largely composed of foreigners with various nationalities  who represent one or more region.
  • Article 17 says that an association’s consumption of electricity, natural gas and water will be treated like the consumption of homes. This on the condition that the association obtains a document from the competent Minister attesting that it’s not conducting any commercial activities. Such privileges should have been set at 75% to encourage associations such like they do with sports clubs.
  • Article 19 contained some flexible words such as “associations may join, participate or cooperate with any other local organization, association or agency in conducting activities that do not contradict its goals after notifying the administrative authority” This has to be adjusted in the executive regulation of the law.
  • An association may join or cooperate in a manner that does not contradict its goals with an foreign agency or organization if they obtain a license from the administrative authority, and this license requires the approval of the competent minister to be approved. 

The third paragraph of Article (23) stipulates that “the funds of associations shall be considered as public funds in the application of the provisions of the Penal Code”. However this contradicts the Egyptian constitution and article 87 of the civil code and article 119 of the penal code.

Article (79) stipulates that “the employees of the Central Unit and the sub-units specified by a decree of the Minister of Justice upon the proposal of the competent minister shall have the capacity of judicial officers.” As for the capacity of the Judiciary, it should not be extended to a large number of workers. The Executive Regulation also has to specify the cases of their use and to limit them exclusively to preserve the rights of the association. And not to use them in cases other than flagrante crimes such as embezzlement or forgery.

The attendees called for the avoiding to the negative aspects of his law, and to tend to them in the executive regulation.

For his part Dr. Hafez Abu Seada the president of EOHR said that law No. 70 of 2017 completely violated the articles of the Egyptian constitution that guarantee the right to freedom of association, and it violated as well international human rights instruments like the international covenant on civil and political rights. 

Abu Seada pointed to the importance of convening societal dialogue sessions over the executive regulation of the new law so that associations can work freely and so that they can catch up with developments that benefit public good and the country.

EOHR strongly campaigned against law No. 70 of 2017 and called for the drafting of a new one that supported Egyptian civil society. EOHR in this context created a committee in response to President Al Sisi’s initiative to review civil society laws and EOHR’s committee insisted on the draft proposed previously by Dr. Ghada Wali the Minister of Social Solidarity. 

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