(May 18, 2010) It was reported on April 2, 2010, that a bill targeting human rights activists as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be discussed by the People's Assembly (lower house) of the Egyptian Parliament in its current session. The bill curtails the activities of human rights activists in Egypt. It subjects NGOs to the direct supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The bill aims at nationalizing all NGOs and stripping them of any powers they might use to monitor the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2010 and 2011.
According to the bill, the executive branch will establish a new governmental institution, known as the General Federation for Civil Society Organizations. The main objective of the new organization is to monitor and control the work of human rights activists and NGOs, and keep them in line with the government's political agenda. The bill provides this organization with the authority to intervene in the elections for the boards of directors of each of the country's NGOs.
The bill imposes sanctions against violators, including the penalty of imprisonment, for any individual who runs an NGO without advance permission from the Ministry of Social Affairs. Finally, the bill prohibits any foreign funding or grants to NGOs without the prior approval of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Security Police. (A UN Report: The New Law on NGOs Is Not Helpful تقرير اممي:قانون الجمعيات الجديد غير مبشر [in Arabic], AL YOUM AL-SABA'A, Apr. 2, 2010, available at http://www.youm7.com/NewsPrint.asp?NewsID=213478.)