According to news agencies, Egypt’s president has signed into law a contentious new bill to regulate non-governmental organizations, triggering fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved the law on May 24, 2017 after parliament approved it in November last year.
Rights lawyer Gamal Eid slammed the text of the new bill, which the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch have also criticized. “The law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organizations,” Eid said. Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 300,000 pounds ($16,500, 14,800 euros) to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, the lawyer said.
Furthermore, no organization can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state. Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000).
The law requires for a “national authority” including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations.
The newly approved law will also curb the work of independent NGOs by making their funding and operation heavily controlled by the government, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).