Cairo appeal court drops charges against 20 NGOs in 2011 'foreign funding case'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 30 Mar 2021

Today’s ruling consequently lifts asset freezes and travel bans on 20 NGOs, which are included in case No.173

high court

The Cairo Appeal Court issued a ruling on Tuesday, dropping charges against 20 NGOs in the 2011 foreign funding case, a judicial statement read, a few months after 20 others were also acquitted of charges.

The new ruling consequently lifts asset freezes and travel bans on the new 20 NGOs, which are included in case No.173.

The NGOs in the case, which dates back to the January Revolution in 2011 that toppled late President Hosni Mubarak, faced allegations of receiving foreign funds.

Defendants in the case faced prison sentences in 2013 that ranged between one to five years but were acquitted in 2018.

Today’s ruling denies any motion to move forward with a criminal case against five of these NGOs due to the absence of any crime and the acquittal of the remaining 15 NGOs due to insufficient evidence.

The first five NGOs are the Association for the Advancement of Education, Catholic Relief Services Egypt, Ansar Al-Sunnah Al-Mohamadeya, Transparency International, and Caritas Egypt.

The remaining 15 NGOs include the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice; Ro’yah for Social Studies; Bokra for Media Productions, Media Studies and Human Rights; and the Right to Democracy and Human Rights Centre.

They also include the Human Development Association; the New Future Family Centre for Legal Studies and Human Rights; the Foundation of Full Promotion of Women and Development; New Perspectives for Social Development; the Female Lawyers Union; the People’s Rights Centre; the Transparency Centre for Development Training and Studies; the Association for the Development of Society, Women, Children, and the Environment; the Politics Association for an Open Society, the Technology Centre for Human Rights; and the Union of Rural Development.

The names of these groups were literally translated from Arabic as their exact names in English could not be verified.

“Civil society performs a pivotal role in sustainable development. This is its role that we believe in and in its importance and that all state institutions believe in,” a judicial statement read.

The statement urged all Egyptian and foreign organisations, associations, institutions, unions, and entities in Egypt to settle their legal situation with the authorities in accordance with the law.

In December last year, the court issued a ruling lifting asset freezes and travel bans on 20 other NGOs in the case. Charges were also dropped against 14 organisations for insufficient evidence and six for absence of crime.

The six NGOs included the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); Yalla Nesharek for Social Development; Internews Network; the Naqib Corporation for Training and Democracy Support (NCTDS); the Al-Amal Charitable Society in Minya; and the Muslim Family Association in Damanhour.

The other 14 included the National Center for Human Rights; Sahm Al-Theqa Association; Hand in Hand for Egypt Association; the Middle East for Development and Human Rights Foundation; Development Resources Center; the Human Rights Centre for the Assistance of Prisoners (HRCAP); and the Egyptian Centre for Development and Democratic Studies.

The list also includes the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; Coptic Orphans Organisation; El-Sadat Association for Social Development and Welfare; the Egyptian Democratic Institute; the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights; the Maet Center for Constitutional and Legal Studies; and the Future Generation Association.

Some of the exact names of these NGOs could not be verified.

Egypt last year ratified the bylaws of a new NGO law to regulate the work of tens of thousands of NGOs in Egypt.

This comes after an existing version of the law was criticized for imposing steep restrictions on the work of these organisations in the country.

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