Charges of receiving illegal foreign funding pressed against four NGOs operating in Egypt have been dropped, as per a recent judicial ruling, raising the number of NGOs that have had charges dropped in the same case, commonly known as the “2011 foreign funding of civil society case,” to 67 organisations.
"There is no ground to file a criminal lawsuit against the four organisations and entities due to insufficient evidence," judge Ali Mokhtar, the judge in charge of the investigation into the case, said in an official statement on Monday.
The four NGOs are the United Group, the Egyptian Democratic Institute, the Egyptian Society for Upgrading Societal Participation and Lawyers for Justice and Peace.
The court ruling consequently lifts asset freezes and travel bans on the staff of the four exonerated NGOs, according to the statement.
The famous case dates back to the January Revolution in 2011 that toppled late President Hosni Mubarak and involves dozens of defendants and entities.
Mokhtar is the latest investigating judge – succeeding a number of previous judges – delegated by the Cairo Court of Appeals to investigate the report by a fact-finding committee formed in 2011 to look into the foreign funding of civil society groups.
Charges filed against 63 NGOs and asset freezes and travel bans on their staff have been dropped and lifted upon four previous judicial rulings issued over the past two years.
With this latest decision, a total of 67 entities and over 180 persons have been acquitted.
In 2020, Egypt ratified the bylaws of a new NGO law to regulate the work of tens of thousands of NGOs in Egypt. The previous version of the law was criticised for imposing steep restrictions on the work of these organisations in the country.
Judge Mokhtar called upon all NGOs in Egypt to settle their legal status as soon as possible in line with the NGO law.
Failure to legalise status one year after the issuance of the law's executive regulation carries a fine of up to EGP 1 million, the judge said.
The executive regulation for the amended law was issued by the Egyptian prime minister in January 2021.
Judge Mokhtar stressed that the NGOs have an active role in achieving sustainable development in countries, and can act as a major partner for countries to confront various challenges.