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State security department prevents group from forming a registered association

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 5 September 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced today the continued police interference and limitation of the rights of citizens to organise and form associations as a form of freedom of expression, contrary to the constitution and international treaties that Egypt has signed. The Ministry of Social Solidarity recently refused to register and allow the One Homeland for Development and Freedoms group to form an association despite the submission of all the necessary documents. The decision was based on the state security department's refusal to approve the association.

This refusal forms part of a wide range of restrictive policies embraced by the Egyptian government against rights activists and independent organisations in an attempt to control civil society, specifically prior to the upcoming general and presidential elections.

Although there is no article in the associations bill that stipulates that the security department's consent is required to license civil associations, the Ministry of Social Solidarity gave full control to the state security department. This move disregarded the law and, as a result, gave the security department undue powers in issues regarding licensing, acceptance of memberships and acceptance or refusal of funding, thus interfering in the activities of associations.

In this context, the police's refusal to allow the registration of One Homeland for Development and Freedoms as an association is one element in a long chain of interferences and restrictions of civil society organisations, especially of those that operate independently. The Association for Human Rights Legal Assistance (AHRLA) is facing severe restrictions that may lead to the termination of its activities, as is the New Woman Foundation. ANHRI and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center are facing criminal charges in a fabricated case driven by the state security department.

ANHRI asserts its stance that security force interference in the operation of independent Egyptian associations and organisations is unacceptable. The state security department must stop its ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, allow the registration of civil society organisations like One Homeland for Development and Freedoms and refrain from encroaching on the right of citizens to organise and express themselves.

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