The decision to close down the Association of Human Rights and Legal Aid (AHRLA) seems to be a retaliation for its significant role in exposing the wave of institutionalized torture being practiced in Egypt, and for providing legal advice to victims of such practices in particular to those who have been tortured while in custody at police stations.
In order to justify its decision, the ministry of social security says AHRLA has breached the law which prohibits NGOs from receiving foreign funds without permission from the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
This kind of charges was brought against two other human rights defenders in the past; both were later acquitted by the courts. Moreover, criticism of the strict regulations on foreign funding in Egypt has been expressed by the UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and by the UN Human Rights Committee.
The government’s will to bring these charges again, despite its inefficiency and the criticisms coming from the international community appears as a shameful and meaningless attempt to silence an independent organization.
The decision to dissolve AHRLA comes shortly after the Ministry of Social Solidarity refused to officially register the Centre for Trade Unions and Human Affairs formerly known as the Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services closed in late April.
These events happen at a time when Egyptian human rights organizations await amendments to the already restrictive Law on NGOs amongst fears that the authorities are seeking to further restrict and control their activities through increased administrative measures.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network calls on the Egyptian authorities to:
• Immediately rescind the decisions to dissolve AHRLA and stop all security harassment against NGOs and human rights defenders
• Respect and enforce the right to freedom of association
• Uphold its international human rights obligations as a newly elected member of the UN Human Rights Council
Calls on the European Union to:
Put freedom of association on the top priorities of the bilateral relations with the Egyptian government
Take profit of the Committee on Political Affairs to be held on the 26th of November to call on Egypt to respect its Human Rights commitments in the ENP’s action plan
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