Making it harder for charities to operate in Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on 29 May 2017 signed into law a contentious new bill that regulates non-governmental organisations (NGO).
The measure restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non-compliance and fines up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55000).
Highlights of the NGO law
• Under the new law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 16500 dollars to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis.
• It has also a provision of a national authority including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organisations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organisations.
• The new law says that no organisation will be allowed to carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state.
The law came into force on 30 May 2017 in Egypt after being published in the official gazette. It was approved by the President, six months after it was passed in the Parliament.
Reports suggest that with this approval Prime Minister Sherif Ismail will have two months to issue the implementing bylaws. IN addition to this, all NGOs or any other entity engaged in social work will have one year from 30 May 2017 to register in accordance with the still to be formed National Authority for the Regulation of Non-Governmental Foreign Organizations.
The new law signed by President Sisi was criticised by the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch. A human rights lawyer said that the law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organisations.