The current non-governmental organisation (NGO) draft law should be repealed, said the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) on Thursday. The network of human rights organisations said that one that is in “compliance with international human rights standards” should replace the current draft.
“The EMHRN greets the indications that human rights, in particular gender equality and the draft NGO law were addressed during the meeting between [European Union] High Representative [Catherine] Ashton and President [Mohamed] Morsi on 7 April,” said Moataz El Fegiery, a member of EMHRN’s Executive committee, in a press release.
“However these talks should be followed by action and immediate withdrawal of this draft law,” he added.
The group said representatives from different NGOs approached Ashton, asking her to take a public stance against the draft law, and use conditional aid as a tool to improve human rights standards in Egypt.
EMHRN expressed disappointment in not being extended an invitation, along with many Egypt-based NGOs, during Ashton’s Cairo visit.
“Emphasising such interaction and engagement is vital given the current climate of hostile attacks on Egyptian civil society, particular NGOs working to promote human rights and gender equality, as their very existence is currently in jeopardy,” said El Fegiery.
The current draft law has been criticised by a number of groups, including the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), which said that the bill defines civil work as humanitarian and developmental, but does not include work related to human rights.
The bill also sets the minimum number of members in an NGO to 20, up from 10 in the previous draft, and requires a higher amount of capital to fund such organisations, marginalizing potential smaller ventures.
The NGO draft law also states that a committee formed by a number of ministries, including the Ministry of Interior, would oversee foreign funding and monitor the activity of foreign NGOs inside the country.
Human rights experts in the United Nations also criticised the draft law last month, saying it does not comply with international standards.