Nazra for Feminist Studies announced on Sunday that it will be investigated in the reopened case from 2011, known as the ‘NGO foreign funds’ case, the charges of which were filed against a number of NGOs.
Three members from Nazra received official summons to be questioned on 13 March and 15 March, in a session that was scheduled for Wednesday 16 March, but later postponed to 22 March. The three staff members are working as human rights advocates, focusing on the status of women in Egypt.
The case dates back to December 2011, when prosecutors, backed by the police, filed a case against several NGOs accusing them of operating and receiving foreign funds without a licence.
At the time of the case, 17 local and international NGOs were stormed by security forces, including the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and Freedom House. Later in late June 2013, 43 NGO workers were put on trial, including 32 foreigners, and were sentenced to imprisonment of one to five years; others received sentences in absentia.
In its statement, Nazra said that no reasons were given for the summoning of three of its members, nor whether this summoning is related to the organisation itself.
Nazra considers this order to be part of further crackdowns and an escalation by the state against civil society organisations, according to Nazra’s statement, which refers to “travel bans, summoning of organisations’ staff members, and visits by inspection committees to some organisations”.
Nazra for Feminist Studies was registered as an association by the Ministry of Social Solidarity on 28 December 2007. It has been headed by Mozn Hassan since its registration and also obtained the Economic and Social Special Consultative Status in the United Nations in January 2014.
Hassan could not be reached for comment; Nazra’s lawyer Mostafa Mahmoud refused to provide any details about the case, saying he is not allowed to speak about the issue.
The reopened case is comprised of four defendants, including two prominent figures: activist Gamal Eid who is the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights and journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahagt who is the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
Eid and Bahagt received phone calls last Wednesday summoning them to court, but they did not attend due to the short notice. Their assets were frozen, pending investigations into charges that they illegally received $1.5m in foreign funding for their respective NGOs, as well as being banned from travel in February despite not being formally accused of any criminal activity.
Other NGOs are involved in 2011 case for allegedly receiving funds from the European Union and the United States of EGP 1.5bn and $500m dollars.