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New NGO law to be submitted to ‎Egyptian parliament: Minister

A new law, which will be at the top of ‎parliament's legislative priorities in the coming ‎period, aims to 'make it much easier to set up ‎NGOs,' according to the parliamentary affairs minister

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 23 Mar 2016
Egyptian parliament (Reuters)
Egyptian parliament (Reuters)
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Egypt's Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Magdi El-‎Agati said on Tuesday that a new government-drafted ‎NGO law will soon be submitted to parliament.‎

In a Tuesday meeting with Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay, the ‎French ambassador-at-large for human rights‎, El-‎Agati indicated that several laws will be ‎redrafted in the coming period to go in line with ‎Egypt's new constitution.  

"At the top of these is a new ‎NGO law which will reflect the liberal philosophy ‎of the constitution," said El-‎Agati, adding that "the ‎new draft law will make it much easier to set up ‎NGOs."

"The law states that NGOs can be set up ‎only by notification, with its founders and members ‎allowed to perform their activities with complete freedom, ‎and that they can only be dissolved or banned under ‎final judicial rulings." ‎

According to El-‎Agati, the law ‎will help create a vibrant civil society in Egypt ‎capable of defending human rights and boosting ‎development.‎

El-‎Agati also indicated that he informed the French ‎ambassador that "the Egyptian government strongly ‎believes in respecting human rights."

"This is clearly ‎enshrined in the new constitution and the new ‎government is doing its best to translate the ‎constitution's chapters on human rights into a ‎reality," said El-‎Agati.‎

To achieve this objective, El-‎Agati explained ‎that a number of laws will be submitted to ‎parliament to be enacted into final legislations that ‎go in line with the constitution.

"While we are ‎moving on the front of improving the human rights ‎situation, we are also working on another front, which ‎is stemming the tide of police violations of human ‎rights," said El-‎Agati, indicating that "new ‎amendments of the police law aimed at stiffening ‎penalties on policemen accused of violating human ‎rights will soon be discussed by parliament."

"The ‎new legislative amendments show no mercy to ‎policemen ‎convicted of violating human rights," said El-‎Agati, ‎adding that parliament's human rights ‎committee will be reviewing the conditions of human rights ‎in Egypt in the coming period.‎

El-‎Agati said he is happy that Egypt and France ‎have stepped up cooperation in all ‎fields in the last two years.

El-‎Agati expects thatEgyptian-French relations will reach a new peak ‎when French President Francois Hollande visits ‎Egypt next month.‎

Human rights in Egypt

There has been a lot of international furore this month ‎over the human rights situation in Egypt.‎

On 18 March, US Secretary of State John Kerry ‎issued a statement saying he was "deeply concerned ‎by the deterioration in the human rights situation in ‎Egypt, including a decision to reopen an ‎investigation into human rights NGOs."‎

Kerry's statement came a few hours after an Egyptian ‎judicial committee reopened a five-year-old ‎investigation into human rights organisations ‎accused of receiving foreign funding illegally, and ‎ordered the freezing of assets of four leading ‎Egyptian human rights workers and their families.‎

Egyptian MPs swiftly and angrily reacted to Kerry's ‎statement, accusing him of interfering in the ‎country's internal affairs and defending illegal ‎practices.

Some MPs went so far as to ‎demand a blanket ban be imposed on foreign ‎funding of NGOs.‎

An Egyptian parliamentary delegation will head ‎to Brussels next month to discuss human rights with ‎the EU parliament.‎

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