Another law against NGOs in Egypt

Here is a statement by a group of Egyptian NGOs about a bill circulating to overhaul legislation governing how civil society operates — in part in reaction to the recent US-Egypt NGO crisis.

The undersigned human rights organizations declare their utter rejection of the new draft law on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), prepared by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and which aims to nationalize civil society. Under this law civil society would be considered an institution of the government, and NGO staff would be regarded as civil servants. Furthermore, the new law would impose several new arbitrary restrictions aiming to terrorize civil society activists.

Read the rest here. Of course the bill prohibits receiving funding from abroad without government approval, as previous legislation did, forcing many NGOs to register as legal corporations. It also bars membership in international NGO networks without government approval — meaning that, say, an Egyptian anti-torture group might not be able to join an anti-torture network.

The bill was prepared by the Ministry of Social Insurance, where clearly the same mindset and mentality as the old regime thrives. It's about time MPs start drafting their own laws rather than let Mubarak-era technocrats do it. The only question is whether the Islamist dominated parliament might actually approve of this new text.