U.N. blasts Egyptian bill on NGOs

March 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM
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CAIRO, March 29 (UPI) -- The United Nations has criticized a draft law by Egypt's Shura Council that would regulate non-governmental organizations.

The law, which was drafted by Egypt's Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs in January and will be reviewed by the House of Representatives once that body is elected, has been blasted by activists for its potential restrictions on civil society, the Egypt Independent reported Friday.

"We are seriously concerned that numerous provisions contained in the draft law may be used to hamper the legitimate work of civil society organizations, particularly those advocating human rights," said a statement posted to the U.N. Human Rights website.

Frank La Rue, the special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, said the bill bars the registration of foreign NGOs that receive "governmental funds directly or indirectly," and promote "views or policies of a political party in its country of origin or violate national sovereignty."

"These terms are vague, and may be arbitrarily interpreted and may thus lead to further restrictions of the right to freedom of expression," he warned.

Maina Kiai, the special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said: "By stipulating that representatives of associations may be subjected to prison sentences and heavy fines if the organization receives foreign funding without authorization, the authorities will deter civil society from seeking funding, thereby restricting an integral and vital part of the right to freedom of association."

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