Egypt: A Letter and legal memorandum to the President; Demanding the Repeal of the NGO Law

In Arab Countries, Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

pres

A Letter and legal memorandum to the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt:

Repeal this NGO Law, the Most Repressive in Egypt’s History. The law eradicates civil society, adversely affects the investment climate and exacerbates the crisis of economic and social growth

The undersigned organizations and civic associations, political parties, and public figures reaffirm their unequivocal rejection of the new law regulating civic associations, hastily approved by the Egyptian parliament on Tuesday, November 29, without any substantial debate or dialogue. We urge Egypt’s President Abdelfattah al-Sisi to use his constitutional authority to veto the law and send it back to parliament for substantial changes that would bring it in line with the Egyptian constitution.

The rationale for the undersigned parties’ rejection of the new law is elaborated upon in the appended memorandum prepared by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. The 15-page memo clearly demonstrates the objectionable points in the law, describing its flagrant violations of Egypt’s constitution and international legal commitments regarding freedom of civic association, as well as its severe social and economic repercussions, especially in regards to development and investment. It further expounds upon the anticipated repercussions of the law for civic engagement, both on the advocacy and development fronts.

More specifically, the memo details the new law’s disavowal of the letter and spirit of the constitution and Egypt’s international legal obligations under multilateral UN conventions and bilateral treaties with the EU. The law is tantamount to a tacit suspension of Article 75 of the constitution and disregards the will of the popular majority that approved it. It also constitutes a de facto withdrawal from international agreements approved by the parliament and ratified by the president. With the law, the Egyptian government retracts the pledges it publicly gave to the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review two years ago.

The new law comes at a time when Egypt is experiencing a severe socioeconomic crisis that state policies have failed to remedy and the worst effects of which civil society has alleviated.  The law renders it impossible for civil society organizations focused on development, social services, and charitable activities to deliver direly needed services to the citizenry at a time when these services are needed more than ever.  Furthermore, it will negatively affect Egypt’s already precarious investment climate and any prospects of serious economic reform. By dismantling civil society – one of the most important pillars underpinning socioeconomic development in any modern state – the new law will have a devastating and irreparable impact on all stakeholders involved, not only on civil society organizations themselves but on the Egyptian state and its citizenry.

Any new law regulating civic associations should enable voluntary, non-profit entities who decide to operate within the state’s legal framework to provide services that the state cannot, especially within the context of a sharply declining economy further debilitated by the floating of the Egyptian pound and dramatic price hikes. Civic associations can and should fill gaps in state services; however, to do this they need freedom and flexibility to respond to these gaps.  Obstructing the sorely needed services and activities of NGOs represents a real danger to Egyptian national security, which the law was ostensibly drafted to protect.

The new civic associations law has been met with widespread condemnation both locally and internationally. The UN special rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and the right of peaceful association warned that the law “would devastate the country’s civil society for generations to come…” The undersigned consider the new law to be the most calamitous of all legislation ever proposed or adopted for the regulation of civil society in Egypt. By dismantling civil society, the new law will further plunge Egypt into crisis – imperiling the economy while simultaneously endangering Egypt’s national security.

To access the letter by CIHRS to the President of Egypt, click here.

To access the legal memorandum by CIHRS on the draft NGO law, click here

Signatories:

Political Parties:

  1. Bread and Liberty Party
  2. Freedom Egypt Party
  3. El-Karama party
  4. Egyptian Popular Current

Civil Society Organization:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies “CIHRS”
  2. Adalah Center for Rights & Freedoms “ACRF”
  3. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
  4. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms “ECRF”
  5. Foundation of the Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance
  6. Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination “MARD”
  7. National group for Human Rights and Law
  8. Nazra for Feminist Studies
  9. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement “EACPE”
  10. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights “ECESR”
  11. The Egyptian Observatory for Training and Consultation
  12. The Human Rights Legal Assistance Group “HRLA”
  13. The New Woman Foundation “NWF”
  14. Al-Haqqanya Foundation of Rights and freedoms
  15. The Land Center for Human Rights “LCHR”
  16. Egypt Press Syndicate-Freedoms Committee
  17. Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development “ACT”
  18. Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies “ECPPS”
  19. Heliopolis Center for Political Development and Human Rights Research
  20. Arab Penal Reform Organization “APRO”
  21. Egyptian Foundation for Childhood Advancement
  22. Masryoon in One Nation Foundation

Public Figures 

  1. Ahmad Fawzi –the Egyptian Social Democratic Party
  2. Ahmed Kamel Buheiry – Popular Current
  3. Amal Abdel Hadi – Feminist Activist
  4. Tamer Sahab- Head of Freedom Egypt Party
  5. Hossam Muanas – Popular Current
  6. Hamdeen Sabahi- Founder of the Popular Current
  7. Khaled Al-Balshi – Head of the Freedoms’ Committee at the Press Syndicate
  8. Khaled Dawood – Dostour Party
  9. Khaled Ali – Founding member of the Bread and Freedom Party
  10. Raed Salamah – Popular Current
  11. Riham Salama – Member of the political committee in Freedom Egypt Party
  12. Tarek Khater – Lawyer at the Court of Cassation
  13. Ali Adel Abu Ouf – Lawyer
  14. Mohamed Samy- Head of Dostour Party and Member of the constitutional Committee
  15. Mohamed Abdel Aziz – Lawyer
  16. Mohamed El-Wan- Engineer
  17. Mohamed Mounier Megahed – Socialist Popular Alliance Party
  18. Amr Salah – Member of the constitutional Committee
  19. Amr Mohamed – Lawyer

This post is also available in: العربية