Egyptian NGOs call for 'serious' government talks

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Nov 2014

Rights groups in Egypt say that a new NGO law will hamper their ability to operate in the country

File photo, Egyptian police raid a non-governmental organization office in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Ten Egyptian NGOs have called on the government to start a "serious and transparent" discussion amid rising fears of the future of NGO's rights in the country.

In a joint statement, the NGOs said they were ready to sit with the ministry of social solidarity to discuss NGOs' independence and the level of governmental interference in their work, in addition to providing suggestions to the government on dealing with rights' issues.

"The NGOs see that this approach will not end the crisis of forming NGOs freely in Egypt but rather prolongs and complicates it," they said in a joint statement, adding that the law contradicts article 75 of the constitution that guarantees freedoms for NGOs.

The signatories of the statement include the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Nazra for Women's Studies.

An ultimatum for NGOs to register under controversial Law 84 of 2002 expired on 10 November.

The ministry of social solidarity said it would continue past the deadline to study each case individually "according to the activities and registration of each organisation."

Law 84, originally introduced under toppled president Hosni Mubarak, is seen to hamper rights organisations' mobility and freedom.

Some groups have opted to cease their activities in Egypt amid what they have described as a "hostile environment," including the Carter Center and the Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy).

NGOs also pointed out in their statement that they sat previously with government officials and discussed concerns over their freedom to work in Egypt.

There was a near-successful attempt in 2013 to draft a consensus NGO law under former social solidarity minister Ahmed El-Boraie, but the attempt was shelved.

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