Civil Society representatives as well as some human rights activists have agreed upon some required recommendations to be included in civil society organizations' draft law, currently prepared by the Ministry of Social Solidarity. The required recommendations include the establishment of civil society organizations promptly after notifying the government without any restrictions , the consolidation of civil society organizations within the Egyptian Society; to be a third pillar of the society along with the government and the private sector, the establishment of a cooperative framework between civil society organizations to enhance collaboration and cooperation among these organizations, civil organizations must be positioned within the plan of the state as a partner in development, and the supervision over the work of the civil society organizations and the work of the board of directors to be through the General Assembly as well as the pledge of the assembly to present a financial report about the undertaken tasks to the competent authority. These requirements came on the light of the consultative meeting held by EOHR, Wednesday, September 4th 2013.
From his side, Mr.Hafez Abu Seada, President of EOHR, asserted that the high committee, formed by The Minister of Social Solidarity, will seek to discuss each and every aspect related to civil society organizations within the new law; as the committee has received a huge sum of recommendations for the draft law. In addition, he stressed on the primary track of the committee that is, guaranteeing the freedom of the work of civil society organizations in Egypt, as well as consolidating the idea of plurality of the unions related to civil society organizations. Also, civil society organizations should not be dissolved unless there is a legal ruling from a specialized court to dissolve these kinds of organizations.
Mr. Abu Seada further added that they are seeking a new law, in replacement of the old law of civil society organizations No.84/ year 2002. The old law included many negative aspects and deficiencies like the imposition of many restrictions on the establishment of organizations, the large number of conditions and articles required for establishment and registration of the organizations, the call for some registration requirements that are unnecessary and inconsistent with the freedom of the organizations, the strict observance on the organizations' work regarding their establishment methods, management methods, and their active domains of work; this is shown through the state's intervention in administrative and financial affairs of the organizations, as well as limiting the organizations' domain of work. These restrictions assert the strict control of the executive authority over civil society organizations that reflect a negative image to the basically positive roles and goals of civil society organizations, as they seek to serve and benefit the citizens within the civil society; also that strict control is incompatible with the right of the founders of these organizations to manage the organizations' administrative and financial affairs as well as achieving cooperation with other institutions and organizations, and assigning the right to dissolve the organizations to the competent Minister's decision instead of dissolving the organizations based on a legal ruling of the competent court; this is shown in Article 42 of the Egyptian Law, also there is a breach of some constitutional principles by the law, like the principle of personality of penalties and the fundamental principles of the Criminal Code like the double punishment, i.e., the administrative and criminal punishment of someone over the same violation.
Mr. Ahmed Abd Al-Hafeez, Vice President of EOHR and Cassation Lawyer, asserted that there is a grave problem facing civil society organizations in Egypt because of the law No.84/ year 2002, stressing that civil society organizations are very active in their work whether in the field of development, charity, or/and human rights. He further stressed that the formation of unions should be voluntary, and funding should be based on choice as long as establishing those unions will be based on prior notification; this will be in the framework of general regulations of the country's national security.
In addition, Mr Abd Al-Hafeez added that the atmosphere of plurality should be provided from the starting point of the establishment to the phase of funding; also monitoring regulations should be available and if the General Assembly violated these regulations, it should be liable to questioning as an entity independent from individuals, but in case any individual made a mistake, then it's a personal problem related to representation and administration, without the dissolution of the whole Assembly.
At the end of the meeting, the participants have agreed on some recommendations to be raised to the high committee formed by The Ministry of Social Solidarity to propose a draft law of the civil society organizations. These recommendations are:
- Obliging governmental planning and local governance bodies to socially participate with civil society organizations and civil institutions in all the phases of developmental planning on a national and regional scale.
- Putting the regulations which organize inter-cooperation between civil society organizations, as well as the cooperation between organizations, syndicates, clubs, and Industrial, Commercial, and Tourism Chambers.
- Organizing social partnerships between civil society organizations and security bodies, in order to help in supporting security work, and public mobilization, as well as facing catastrophes, crises, and critical situations.
- Prohibiting exploration activites of organizations related to drilling and exploring mineral resources, petroleum, and monuments.
- Authorizing regional associations to monitor administrative and financial progress of civil society organizations.