By Kanzy Mahmoud
The NGO draft law and the latest NGO verdict may result in the dissolution of local and international human rights organisations based in Egypt, the Masr Alhureyya Party fears.
In an official statement released Sunday night, the party stressed that while it has always respected the Egyptian judiciary, it accused the executive branch of government of pressuring the court into ordering the closure of five foreign NGOs and seizure of their assets on charges of illegal foreign funding following accusations of engaging in unlicensed activities.
“Since the new public prosecutor took office, who we consider to be illegitimate, the government has had more control over the judiciary,” said member of the party’s political bureau, Shahir George.
The party described the verdict in the statement as purely “political”.
“One of the reasons given for the verdict is [accusing foreign funding of being a form of] ‘soft colonialism’. This is a serious political message. How can the government prosecute civil society organisations that receive foreign funding, yet accept the $4.8bn IMF loan?” added George.
George added that the government is engaging in “selective justice”, where it recognises only those NGOs receiving Islamist funding but condemns those receiving western funding.
He accused both the NGO draft law and the verdict of restricting the freedom of civil society and creating obstacles in the democratisation process. “There are some cases where the government refuses to licence NGOs for five to 10 years consecutively, [even though] it is aware of their funding sources, and has even worked with them, e.g. allowing them to monitor the presidential elections,” said George.
The party statement called for the retraction of the current NGO draft law and for the government to instead focus on issuing a law that gains real consensus from civil societies, in order to ensure that NGOs are able to receive foreign funding transparently without restrictive government oversight.