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Government threatens to dissolve EOHR

The Egyptian authorities are threatening to dismantle one of IFEX's members in Egypt, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), for having accepted unauthorised foreign funds to hold a regional conference on the right to access information, report EOHR, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).

On 27 April, EOHR received a letter signed by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, stating that EOHR was given foreign funding without authorisation and thus had breached the Law of Association 84/2002.

According to the ministry, EOHR had accepted money from the Morocco-based Center of Media Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa to co-host a regional conference in Cairo, "Information is a right for all", for free expression advocates in January.

EOHR says it conformed to the law - it notified the authorities as early as last July about the conference and its request to receive foreign funds, and did not receive a reply.

The Ministry's letter comes after the release of EOHR's 2008 annual report, and two reports on torture and freedom of expression.

EOHR's case is not isolated. According to EOHR, Law 84/2002 gives the authorities wide powers of dissolution, and allows them to control the work of NGOs - by restricting their access to foreign monies and their ability to join international organisations, for example.

The Association for Human Rights and Legal Aid (AHRLA) was dissolved under the same pretext in September 2007. It re-registered in October 2008 and continues to operate.

Over the past year, EOHR, as well as the Observatory and EMHRN has been campaigning tirelessly to amend the law to bring it in line with international human rights standards, such as the 1988 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The organisations are calling on regional and international organisations to stand in solidarity against this kind of legislation, "which paralyzes the work of NGOs in Egypt."

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    (EOHR/IFEX) - The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) expresses its deepest concern regarding a letter received from the Ministry of Social Solidarity warning EOHR of the possibility of applying Article 42 of the NGOs Law 84/2002, which is concerned with dismantling the organization.

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