US rights organisations urge Obama to take stand against Egypt’s NGO law

Jihad Abaza
2 Min Read
A woman reacts to the verdict sentencing to jail the 43 defendants in the foreign funding of NGO case in 2013. (Photo by Mohamed Omar\ DNE File)

Eleven US-based organisations and individuals wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama on Friday urging him to “engage preventively and use all available means to make clear to President Al-Sisi that there will be serious consequences if there is a further crackdown on NGOs”, Human Rights Watch reported.

Their requests come in light of the upcoming 10 November deadline for NGOs to register under the controversial, and “highly restrictive” 2002 NGO Law on Associations.

The signatories also requested the US president to “make clear the consequences of enforcing such a restrictive law are a central concern for the US-Egypt bilateral partnership”.

As the letter stated, dozens of independent organisations are expected to be shut down due to not having been granted permits by the Egyptian government. Egyptian authorities have undertaken a policy of increased repression of civil society over the past 18 months.

In addition, the 2002 Law grants Egyptian authorities the power to shut down, freeze assets, block funding, confiscate property, and reject the governing boards of any organisation. Many organisations that are critical about the performance of the current government, especially its human rights record, will feel the consequences of the law.

“The law clearly violates international freedom of association standards,” the letter read.

The letter was signed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Center for Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Foreign Policy Initiative, Human Rights First, and the Project on Middle East Democracy.

The signatories demanded that the Obama administration not take “a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to this serious threat,” adding that Obama should “make good” on his recently stated commitment to, in his own words, “stand with the courageous citizens and brave civil society groups who are working for equality and opportunity and justice and human dignity all over the world.”

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Jihad Abaza is a journalist and photographer based in Cairo. Personal website: