Following Saturday’s verdict to freeze the assets of several prominent NGO figures and organisations, the European Union (EU) said that “increased pressure on human rights organisations and defenders is not in line with Egypt’s commitments to promote and respect human rights”.
A statement published by the EU’s spokesperson described these commitments as “enshrined in the EU-Egypt Association Agreement, which is the basis of our partnership”.
On Saturday, in a shocking verdict, the North Cairo Criminal Court ordered the assets to be frozen of lawyer Gamal Eid, journalist Hossam Bahgat, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Bahey el-din Hassan, director of Hisham Mubarak Law Centre Mostafa Al-Hassan, and director of the Egyptian Centre for the Right to Education Abdel Hafiz Tayel.
This case is known as the “NGOs’ foreign funding” case and dates back to December 2011, when prosecutors, backed by the police, stormed the offices of 17 local and international NGOs.
The EU said that “these organisations play a key role in the democratic development of Egypt”, while calling Egyptian authorities to allow the practices of “independent functioning of civil society organisations and human rights defenders”.