Shura Council discusses draft law on NGOs

The Shura Council met on Monday to discuss the draft law governing NGOs submitted by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil's Cabinet, which the council decided is constitutional.

Mohamed al-Demerdash, adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs, said the draft law conforms with Article 51 of the Constitution, which grants citizens the right to set up civil society organizations just by notifying authorities. Authorities may not dissolve them except by judicial ruling.

One of the goals of the law is to alleviate restrictions on the operation of NGOs, activate their role and reduce the role of security authorities, Demerdash said at a meeting for the Shura Council's human resources development committee.

He added that before finalizing the draft law, the opinions and suggestions of rights activists and workers in the field of NGOs would be solicited.

The draft law bans NGOs that have a military nature, threaten national unity, violate public order or call for discrimination on the basis of race, origin or language.

It also stipulates that activities that are locally financed and seek to raise awareness of legal and constitutional rights and human rights are not banned. NGOs are also allowed to receive funding provided they give notification to the regional NGOs union.

However, NGOs would not be allowed to receive funds of any nature from abroad, be they from an Egyptian or foreign entity or a representative of a foreign entity in Egypt, until they obtain approval from a coordinating committee formed by the prime minister and led by the minister of social affairs, with representatives from several ministries and authorities.

The committee would grant foreign NGOs the right to have one or more activities, and decide on the renewal, amendment or cancellation of their permits. A foreign NGO would not be allowed to remain active if proven to receive funds to serve the goals of a political organization or to undermines national sovereignty. 

Abdel Azeem Mahmoud, the head of the human development committee, said the current law regulating the function of NGOs is “distorted” and is no longer suitable after the 25 January revolution. 

He also emphasized that feasibility studies should be undertaken before establishing new NGOs.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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