An Egyptian administrative court ruled on Tuesday that non-governmental organisations have the right to receive foreign funding, a verdict which could be important in other ongoing cases where activists are being prosecuted for receiving "illegal" foreign funds.
The verdict stipulated that foreign funding is permitted as long as the Ministry of Social Solidarity doesn’t deem the NGO a harm to “general peace and security" or to have "negatively affected public morality.”
The court case was filed by Amal Abdel-Hady, chairwoman of the New Woman Foundation, against the ministry, after the ministry refused to allow the NGO to receive funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The court’s verdict also said the ministry must respond to the NGO's request for the funds to be permitted “as soon as possible,” or else the ministry would be breaking the law.
In its reasoning, the court said that the ministry's power over NGOs is not a “controlling power” but more of an “assessing” power.
The reasoning also stated that the role of NGOs complements that of the state, and does not contradict it.
A number of Egyptian NGOs are currently being investigated for “illegal foreign funding,” among them Nazra for Feminist Studies, a rights group focused on women's issues.
Also being investigated in the case are Hossam Bahgat, an investigative journalist and founder in 2004 of the Egyptian Initiative for Personnel Rights (EIPR), and Gamal Eid, a lawyer and founder, also in 2004, of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). A gag order was imposed on media in the case.