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Representatives of Egyptian NGOs rejected the new governmental draft law

Press release April 23, 2012
Representatives of Egyptian NGOs rejected the new governmental draft
law
On April 23, 2012, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR)
held a meeting for discussing the governmental draft law of the local
and international civil society organizations. The meeting was held at
the headquarters of EOHR, 12 pm, in attendance of leaders of local
civil society organizations.

The Egyptian Ministry of Social Insurance declared preparation of an
amended draft of the law no. 84, year 2002. The governmental amended
draft was declared, while many of the local and international civil
society organizations came under one of the most aggressive defamation
campaigns.

The attendees generally did not accept and criticized particularly the
following:
First: the project aims at getting all the local and international
civil society organizations under governmental control. It does not
include any definition to “civil society organizations”. The draft
law did not mention anything about the importance of civil society
organizations in defending human rights in Egypt. Specifying the
number of an NGO founders is not accepted and specifying the working
fields of an NGO is not accepted too.
Second: the draft law restricts the freedom of founding and
registration of new NGOs in order to have NOGs working only on
charitable activities, completing the developmental role, which is
naturally played by the governmental authorities. The international
covenants signed by the Egyptian government mentions the freedom of
assembly and forming NGOs, after only notifying the governmental
authorities; a prior approval is not required.

Third: the draft law is aimed at turning the civil society
organizations to local governmental units.

Fourth: the governmental draft law gives control on registration and
activities of civil society organizations to the General and Regional
NGOs Federations. According to the law, NGOs will not be allowed to
defend the rights and interests of the Egyptian groups, for example
the Private and Public Sectors' employees.

Fifth: the law mentioned having 10 members in order to found a new
NGO, which deprives activists with lower number from forming an NGO.

Sixth: the draft is free from any provisions enabling local and
international civil society organizations from monitoring the
governmental performance, loans, grants etc.
Seventh: the draft is free from any provisions related to tax
exemptions, administrative and financial facilitations for NGOs.
Eighth: the draft is free from any provisions related to the role of
NGOs in drafting the new law of local and international civil society
organizations after the Egyptian revolution.

Ninth: the leaders of the civil society organizations denounced the
governmental obligations on foundation or modification of the basic
system of NGOs. NGOs must have the free rights to place their own
constitutions and local rules.
Tenth: the law is free from any facilitation on donation and taxation
exemptions for the donors.
Eleventh: the law is free from any provision related to supporting the
activities implemented by NGOs in order to achieve transparency and
defend human rights.
Twelfth: the leaders of the civil society organizations, who attended
the open discussion workshop, refused imposing criminal punishments
and imprisonment against the leaders of NGOs, who commit
administrative mistakes. These criminal punishments should be decided
only by courts, after guaranteeing the right to legal defense and fair
trial.

Thirteenth: the draft does not comply with the international standards
in connection with dismantling NGOs. NGOs can be dismantled upon
either a court decision or the decision of the founders. The
administrative authorities do not have the right to dismantle a local
or international civil society organization.

By the end of the open discussion meeting, the participants stressed
on promoting the draft law issued by EOHR and 120 civil society
organizations in Egypt, providing the NGOs in Egypt with all the
required safeguards for working freely. According to the draft law, a
civil society organization is registered, following notifying the
governmental authorities. It included also easier procedures for
registration of a new foreign NGO. Local and international civil
society organizations are allowed to participate in the national
developmental planes. NGOs are free to form regional federations. The
law cancels all the criminal punishments against the leaders of NGOs,
because the law of NGOs is for organizing foundation and performance
only. Local NGOs are allowed to join any legalized international
coalitions.

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