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June 26, 2014

Dangerous Egyptian Law Would Limit Independent Civil Society

Washington, D.C.  - Human Rights First today expressed concern over reports that the Egyptian government is preparing to adopt a new, repressive law governing the functioning of non-governmental organizations in Egypt.  The new law will place tight restrictions on the work of both local and international NGOs attempting to work in Egypt.

"If adopted, this new law will make it impossible for NGOs to operate independently, free of governmental control," said Human Rights First's Neil Hicks. “Preventing independent civil society from operating, or even existing, is not consistent with democratic governance.  It is also a violation of international human rights standards to which Egypt is bound by treaty. We urge the U.S. government to immediately condemn this repressive law and consider all avenues of diplomatic response.”

Representatives of Egyptian NGOs were summoned to attend a meeting at the Ministry of Social Solidarity in Cairo today to discuss this new draft law.  They are alarmed by the law's draconian provisions.

The new draft law would place control over the existence of NGOs, as well as organizations' ability to register as legal entities and their ability to obtain funds, in the hands of a Coordinating Committee composed of government appointees, including representatives of the Ministry of the Interior.  This would give the Egyptian government full effective control over the work of NGOs, a contradtction of the basic purpose of non-governmental organizations that are supposed to work independently from government control.

Human Rights First calls on Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior U.S. officials to speak out against this new repressive draft law. The U.S. government should not give unconditional support to an Egyptian government that is following the path of dictatorship, rather than democratic transition.  Repressive laws will not bring stability and much needed social peace to Egypt.  The U.S. government should call on the Egyptian authorities to protect the independence of NGOs in Egypt.

For more information or to speak with Hicks contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.