Amnesty International called for “urgent action” against the “draconian” Law on Associations (Law 84/2002) calling on activists to write to the Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly, in a statement released on Wednesday.
“The authorities are continuing to propose new legislation that would give them sweeping powers over NGO registration, funding and activities,” the Amnesty International statement read.
On 18 July, the Ministry of Social Solidarity warned all NGOs to register under Law 84 by 2 September or “be held accountable according to the law”.
The Egyptian authorities decided on 31 August to extend a deadline for NGOs to register until 10 November, asserting that non-registered NGOs will face the threat of “accountability” measures, which are likely to include closure and criminal prosecution.
The statement called on people to urge Egyptian authorities to withdraw the legal requirement for compulsory registration of NGOs under the Law of Associations, which the human rights organisation considers “contrary to international human rights standards”.
It also called on activists to urge Egyptian authorities to “end their crackdown on civil society, in particular by ending investigations into the legitimate, peaceful activities of human rights organisations and the harassment of human rights defenders,” and to ensure that all future legislation regulating NGOs uphold the right to freedom of association.
The National Council for Human Rights previously called on the Ministry of Social Solidarity to postpone its initial 2 September ultimatum, which mandated that NGOs register their existence with the ministry or face legal consequences and investigation.
Following the NHCR request, the ministry agreed to postpone its deadline for another 45 days.
According to the Amnesty International statement, the draft legislation for Law 82/2002, which already gives the government wide-ranging powers over NGO registration, would “bar NGOs from conducting field research or surveys, or working with foreign organisations, without first getting permission from the government.”
“It would give the authorities new powers to dissolve NGOs or deny them legal registration, on the vague grounds that they ‘threaten national unity’ or ‘violate public order or morals,’” the statement read.
The law is likely to impose severe restrictions on Amnesty International’s access to the country.
Egyptian authorities have recently denied Human Rights Watch directors access to Egypt after the release of their report, “All According to Plan: The Rabaa Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt”.
A number of Egyptian human rights organisations currently operate as law firms or not-for-profit companies because authorities refuse to grant them registration or have ignore their registration applications.
While authorities have for years cracked down on NGOs and human rights organisations, they have done so with more severity since the 2011 uprising.