Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (Cairo)

Egypt: Rights Group Response to Letter From Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry

press release

On February, 21, 2013, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) submitted an official written response to the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry's letter that stated no "local entity" is permitted to engage with "international entities" in any way without the permission of the "security bodies."

EOHR within the response stated that all EOHR's activities comply with the rules and regulations contained by Law No. 84, year 2002, of the civil society organizations. Since the official registration of the organization in 2003, under No. 5220, EOHR applied to take official approvals on implementing any projects or local and international grant applications. EOHR has never implemented any projects before receiving the approval of the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which by its turn consults all the other stakeholder and concerned bodies including security. EOHR confirms that it always take these official measures that may even reach the level of rejecting projects without any objective reasons.

In this regard, EOHR expresses intensive worry for the deteriorated situation of all the international and local civil society organizations in Egypt and the funding-drying-measures that are badly affecting the human rights defense in Egypt. Following the Egyptian revolution, many civil society organizations faced hard-hitting official decisions including rejection of grants and taking too long time to respond grant approval applications, which leads many NGOs to filing lawsuits against the Insurance and Social Affairs Ministry; although all those NGOs are officially registered and take the suitable official measures to call for grant approval; those NGOs do nothing except for performing their monitoring role, according to local and international standards.

Mr. Hafez Abu Seada, the head of EOHR, confirmed his anxiety for the continuous attempts for exclusion of human rights organizations operating in Egypt for more than 28 years. For many years those NGOs struggled for better justice and human rights system in Egypt during the rule of former president. NGOs also have called for ending the practice of random arrest and torture in addition to respect and ensure freedom of expression, assembly and association.

after the revolution of the twenty-fifth of January, 2011, the human rights organizations breathed the sigh of relief and felt that the revolution will remove all restrictions and obstacles that hinder the work of civil society in Egypt and that these organizations will see a climate of freedom for the defense of the rights of ordinary Egyptian citizen, but nothing happened. Chaining NGOs this way is a very bad signal confirming that there is a deliberate intention by the current government to restrict the civil work and eliminate the human rights defenders from the Egyptian map.

In this regard, EOHR calls for amendment of law no. 84 of NGOs to give more space for civil society organizations to handle the required activities aimed at the public's service. Registration of NGOs should be based on notification only and the concerned bodies should not intervene. Within the amendment, the authorities should be committed to give the civil society ways to contribute to the local development plan. All the imprisonment punishments should be deleted because the Egyptian penal code has got many of these punishments for those who violate the Egyptian laws; there is no need to have the same punishments in the NGOs' code. It should be a regulatory code only. It should mention the right to join international NGOs' coalitions. Generally, the law should be well-matched with the international standards.

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