!Hands Off Civil Work in Egypt
The Egyptian president Abdelfattah Al-Sisi signed a new law that organizes civil work in Egypt, or in other words, enforcing full governmental control over the work of civil society’s organizations, associations, and groups. The new law is nothing but another step to complete the systemic oppression strategy adopted by the Egyptian government which included the shutdown of several organizations’ centers such as: Al Nadeem, and freezing the assets of some organizations such as Nazra for Feminist Studies, and lawyer Azza Suleiman’s law firm along with preventing men and women human rights defenders from travelling
According to the new law, any organization or association is prohibited from conducting any study or survey without an official governmental permit which violates the right to freedom of expression and the right of access to information. The studies’ or surveys’ results and conclusion also cannot be published without an official permit.
In addition to that, a “national committee” which consists of security agencies, military, and other governmental agencies’ representatives, has the right to screen grant proposals and must agree to it beforehand. With those new procedures, the state will finally be able to abolish the shrinking space that some civil and social organization had, and limit, or even end, the vital roles played by civil organizations such observing and questioning governmental procedures, recommending and setting new developmental progressive plans. Moreover, the state is forcing the organizations to either play the role of the ‘secret agent’ or shutdown. The security agencies’ and military’s intervention in organizing local civil work doesn’t, in any way, promote positive citizenship.
The regional coalition for women human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa considers the new law nothing but another level of the cruel attack and systemic oppressive strategy against the Egyptian civil society, especially against human rights defenders. The state’s hostile approach towards the civil society has blinded it from seeing the role of the hundreds of organizations that have established itself as an alternative to the state by providing the majority of the people with several forms of service.
As a coalition of women human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa, we reject the new law that organizes civil work in Egypt. We call the Egyptian authorities to step back from this law immediately because it violates humans rights, destroys civil society and demonizes men and women human rights defenders and make them subject to constant state surveillance. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian civil society and support it in the face of the ongoing war against civil society in Egypt.