Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed al-Borai said that the human rights committee’s draft containing amendments made to the controversial NGO law would be ready by the end of this week, after it has passed through several community dialogue sessions.
As an administrative body established by law, the ministry has the authority to review and modify any of the articles in the draft in order to align them with the current circumstances in the country. It then can send the draft to the Legislative Committee in the Cabinet in preparation for it to be sent to the President for approval, Borai said on Tuesday.
Human rights groups and other civil society organizations have asked the Egyptian government to repeal the strict NGO law, but according to Borai, the law needs to harsher to reflect Egypt’s current crisis. “The final decision belongs to the ministry, which believes that there should be tighter control on foreign funding of civil society, without hindering their activities in recognition of the current political conditions in the country,” Borai said.
“Any funding should be directed to meet the urgent needs of citizens, such as the development of education or health,” he added.
International human rights groups, such as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, have criticized previous versions of the law as it formalizes the government arbitrarily denying NGOs that criticize the human rights abuses of the government access to both international and domestic funds.
“Egypt’s proposed NGO law would allow the government free rein to cut off funding and halt activities of groups that it finds inconvenient. It is hostile to the very notion of independent civil society,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, back in May.
“We call on the Egyptian government to demonstrate its commitment to democratic reform by replacing the current draft law with one that promotes freedom of association,” said Freedom House in a statement in March.