Egypt's parliament gives final approval to amended NGO law

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 30 Mar 2022

Egypt's parliament approved on Wednesday a legislative amendment to the law regulating the operation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).


The amendment, which was approved by the Senate – Egypt's consultative upper house – on Sunday 27 March, has to be ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to go into effect.

Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi, chairman of the House's Social Solidarity Committee, said the legislative amendment to the law on the exercise of civil work will grant NGOs a timeframe to adjust their legal situation.

"This law's executive regulations were issued on 11 January 2021 and went into effect the next day," said El-Qasabi, indicating that "facts on the ground have, however, shown that many NGOs were not able to adjust their legal conditions within this one-year period, and so they were not able to hold their general assemblies as required by Article 7 of the law due to the anti-coronavirus protective measures, and so they were threatened with dissolution."

El-Qasabi also indicated that many NGOs were not able to familiarise themselves with the electronic system legalising and regulating their status, or to accommodate all the organisational procedures that must be met.

As a result, the legislative amendment to the 2019 law gives NGOs another grace period to adjust their legal conditions, El-Qasabi said.

The legislation amends Article 2 to state that “civil society organisations, institutions, unions, regional and foreign NGOs and entities… shall be allowed to adjust their conditions within six months,” and “this period shall be extended for another six months only upon a decision from the minister in charge of NGOs and civil work and after getting the cabinet's approval.”

El-Qasabi also pointed out that "the amendment also reflects President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's call during the World Youth Forum last January to declare 2022 as ‘the Year of Civil Society’."

Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) said in a statement in January that the extension was necessary to affirm the state's openness to enhancing the role of NGOs and their contribution to the community.

The NCHR asserted that the cabinet’s decision gives the opportunity to over 20,000 NGOs and civil society organisations to legalise their status, adding that only 31,000 NGOs out of 54,000 were able to settle their legal status before the initial deadline of 12 January.

Some governorates only saw 35 percent of their operating NGOs able to legalise their status, it added.

MP Talaat Abdel-Qawi, chairman of the general union of NGOs and civil society organisations, said the legislative amendment gives a good opportunity for NGOs to adjust their legal situation.

MP Inas Abdel-Halim said around 40,000 NGOs were threatened with dissolution because they failed to adjust their legal conditions.

MP Soliman Wahdan, the spokesperson of the Wafd Party, said the legislative amendment will open the door for 22,000 NGOs to adjust their legal conditions in order to be able to play their roles in achieving the country's sustainable development.

Wafdist MP and journalist Mohamed Abdel-Alim warned that there should be stricter supervision on NGOs that obtain funding from the United States and the European Union, "as this kind of foreign money and funding spread everywhere like cancer in Egypt, and for a long time in the past, targeting political parties and certain institutions and aiming to manipulate internal political conditions in Egypt," said Abdel-Alim, recommending that the "funding of NGOs should be limited to national sources only."

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