NGOs under pressure in Egypt
NGOs under pressure in Egypt IRIN
IRIN on Friday, June 7, 2013
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The conviction in Egypt of 43 NGO workers this week for working illegally has turned the spotlight on an increasingly restrictive environment for NGOs, including those in the humanitarian sector.

Furthermore, the next couple of weeks are expected to see the approval of a new bill by Egypt’s upper house, the Shura Council, revising the laws covering NGOs - a revision that has been widely criticized by international and Egyptian human rights groups.

Egypt has up to 43,000 NGOs, according to the government.

The new bill, first proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party and announced by the presidency on 29 May, exempts NGOs from taxes and customs (Article 11), but tightens government control of much of their activity, including funding and membership.

“This bill aims first and foremost to limit the few freedoms civil society organizations have,” Nehad Abul Qomsan, head of local NGO Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights, told IRIN. “It gives the government carte blanche to intervene in the work of NGOs in ways that stifle this work altogether.”

The new bill is designed to replace a 2002 law from the Hosni Mubarak era deemed restrictive by many of Egypt's NGOs.

The 2002 law was used in this week’s convictions of Egyptian and international NGO workers, alongside the 1937 penal code.

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