Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is concerned by the passing of a new law in Egypt that local non-governmental organisations say “effectively eradicates civil society.”
On 15th November, the Egyptian Parliament passed the Civic Association Law, which places complete responsibility for administering civil society on government departments and the security apparatus.
This comes after a government-sponsored bill, containing similarly restrictive measures, was unanimously rejected by human rights groups in September this year. However, measures in the new legislation have been denounced as being even more draconian.
The new legislation creates a body known as the “National Agency for the Regulation of Foreign Non-Governmental Organisations”, which will be made up of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry for International co-operation and from State security bodies.
NGOs must apply to this agency for legal status, and prove that they meet expansive registration conditions, such as not engaging in “activities that might harm the national security of the country, or activities that might violate the public order, morals, or health.”
The law grants the government the right of veto on any resolution passed by a registered organisation, and officials will have jurisdiction over other NGO business, such as board appointments and frequency of meetings. An application for registration that does not receive a response within two months is automatically rejected.
Any organisation that conducts activities without legal permission risks custodial sentences of five years imprisonment and fines of up to LE1 Million (approximately £50,500) for its staff. This includes co-operating with any organisation inside the country that has links with any outside foreign body, including the United Nations.
In addition, NGO staff will be held criminally liable for any administrative error made by the government agency.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The restrictive nature of this new law gives the unfortunate impression that it was enacted not only to regulate NGOs, but also to curtail them. Civil society is vital to the development of a thriving democracy; however, the excessive penalties outlined within this legislation put its role at risk.
“CSW has had concerns about the increasing pressures on NGOs for some time, but this latest measure is the most worrying development to date … We appeal to the Egyptian government to review this legislation as a matter of urgency.”
- Pray for Egypt, for wisdom for the Government, for it to heed calls to review this new legislation, and to ease the pressure on the NGO’s working in the country.
- Pray for Christian NGO’s in the light of this new legislation, to be able to continue with their, often vital, work and to be light and salt to the people of this nation.
- Pray for the Church in Egypt, for unity, strength and perseverance on faith as it also faces growing pressure against it.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to move over this nation, for many to hear the Gospel and come to know the truth of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Saviour of all.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.“
Source: http://www.csw.org.uk, http://www.persecution.org