Egypt’s government has ratified, with immediate effect, the bylaws of the new law concerning non-government organisations (NGOs), Egyptian Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad announced Thursday evening.
The House of Representatives passed an amended NGOs law in July 2019, after the existing version of the law was criticized for imposing steep restrictions on the work of tens of thousands of NGOs in the country.
“The law and its bylaws were the product of a community dialogue discussion that was launched by the government with various stakeholders about the best practices in this field in a number of countries, with the participation of local and foreign NGOs, jurists, and the National Council for Rights,” Saad said.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly formed a committee to oversee the amendment of the original NGO law in 2018, after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi asked for revisions to be made.
“Ratifying the new bylaws is considered the start of implementing the law in Egypt,” said Saad in a statement, adding that both the law and its bylaws are considered a paradigm shift in the history of civil society in the country.
“The law and its bylaws reflect the faith of the state in the vital role of NGOs in achieving developments in different fields through building a strong and sustainable partnership between the state and civil society in a way that allows them to achieve their goals in a framework of transparency and respect of human rights values,” he added.
Saad stated the new law reflects the commitment of the state to support society by guaranteeing the right to form NGOs, boost their organisational and financial capabilities, and allow them to work in different fields, in addition to providing them with merits and exemptions.
“Citizens are granted the right to form NGOs upon notification, while ensuring that they freely exercise their activities, and that administrative bodies are not allowed to interfere in their affairs, dissolve them, or dissolve their boards of directors without a court ruling,” the official spokesperson said.
The law also reflects how the Egyptian state welcomes the work of foreign NGOs in Egypt, he added.
“Concerning the work of foreign NGOs in Egypt, the bylaws explained in details the procedural framework that foreign NGOs must follow in order to have a permit to operate in the country,” he said.
Concerning the finances of NGOs, Saad stated that the new law facilitated the financial transactions of NGOs, allowing them to receive cash and funds from inside and outside of Egypt from persons or legal entities, as well as foreign NGOs unauthorized to work in the country.
The spokesman also added that the new law does not include any penalties that involve the incarceration of NGO workers, with fines being imposed in case of violations.
According to Saad, in order for NGOs’ currently in Egypt to continue to operate, including foreign NGOs, without disruption, the new law gives all NGOs an opportunity to resolve their legal situation within a year of implementing the bylaws by going through simple procedures.