Criticism over a non-governmental organisation (NGO) draft law, which received preliminary approval from parliament, continues as new claims surface over what would be heavy restrictions on the work of civil society if the law were to be implemented.
Former minister of social solidarity Ahmed El-Borai argued that the law would kill a civil society that hardly functions as it is and already has heavy restrictions on their work.
“States have the right to monitor the financial operations of NGOs, but they should not interfere with their activities,” he said in a Tuesday interview on Al-Kahera wal Nas TV channel.
The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) issued a paper Tuesday explaining why it rejects the draft law. According to AFTE, the law puts NGOs under its control and disables their independence. It also includes harsh prison sentences for violating the law.
“The law reflects a misunderstanding of the importance of civil society,” said AFTE, adding that the new draft “is more restrictive than the existing law, as it places NGOs under a governmental authority of which members are from security institutions”.
Those who oppose the law argue that the goal of monitoring NGOs finances is not to prevent crimes such as money laundering, but rather to threaten the ability of organisations to receive foreign funds, jeopardising their ability to work.
Article 75 of the Constitution stipulates: “citizens shall have the right to form non-governmental associations and foundations on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality [the ability of any legal person to amend rights and obligations] upon notification.”
The article further says that they shall have the right to practice their activities freely without interference. Dissolution of NGOs board happen through a court verdict, and some activities are banned by the state such as those of “military or a quasi-military nature”.