Sisi signs controversial NGO bill

Egyptian President signs into law contentious bill to regulate non-governmental organizations.

Ben Ariel,

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Reuters

Egyptian President Abdel fattah al-Sisi has signed into law a contentious new bill to regulate non-governmental organizations, the AFP news agency reported on Monday.

Sisi approved the law on May 24 after parliament approved it in November last year, according to the report.

Rights lawyer Gamal Eid slammed the text of the new bill, which the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch have also criticized.

"The law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organizations," Eid was quoted as having said.

Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 300,000 pounds ($16,500) to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, the lawyer said.

No organization can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state.

Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000).

The law also requires for a "national authority" including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations.

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, government and security officials have accused civil society of wanting to destabilize the country.

Sisi, who at the time served as army chief, overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, amid continuing calls for him to go. Since that time, authorities have led a crackdown on all forms of opposition, specifically against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which was blacklisted as a terrorist organization following his ouster.

In addition, Egypt has frozen the assets of senior leaders of the movement and has arrested dozens of its members since Morsi’s ouster, including most of its leadership.

Many members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death over this time, leading to condemnations from the U.S. and the European Union, as well as human rights organizations.




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