Egyptian FlagCivic Freedom Monitor: Egypt

Introduction | At a Glance | Key Indicators | International Rankings
Legal Snapshot | Legal Analysis | Reports | News and Additional Resources
Last updated 10 May 2017

Updates: After two church bombings on April 9, claimed by the Islamic State, Egypt’s government responded with a number of legal measures to combat terrorism including President Sisi’s declaration of a three-month nationwide state of emergency. Among other things, the state of emergency grants officials the authority to monitor and intercept all forms of communication, including on social media; enables officials to try civilians in emergency courts, where they are unable to appeal verdicts; and it allows state authorities to detain anyone suspected of terrorist activity for seven days after getting the prosecution’s approval, or up to one month if they are deemed “highly dangerous.” Along with the state of emergency, President Sisi issued a decree forming three new regulatory bodies to govern the media. One of these, the Supreme Media Council, is granted broad authority to prohibit foreign news and news deemed “inflammatory” for national security purposes. The counterterrorism measures pose clear threats to civic freedoms in Egypt, particularly freedom of expression and the press.

In late March, Parliament approved amendments to Egypt’s restrictive 2013 protest law. Under the amendments, the judiciary rather than the Interior Ministry has authority to reject notifications of the intent to protest. In contrast to the provisions of the law prior to amendment, if a judge rejects a protest notification, defendants have the right to appeal. The amendments modify Article 10 of the law in accordance with the December 2016 ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

As of May 2017, the extremely restrictive draft law to govern civil society that was approved by Parliament in late November 2016 had not yet been ratified by President Sisi. The parliamentarian who introduced the draft law confirmed in January that the draft law had not been sent to Sisi for ratification, but remained with Parliament.

Introduction

In early 2011, mass protests across Egypt led to President Hosni Mubarak’s removal from power. Since then, the country has gone through several tumultuous years, with numerous annulled elections, changes in governing authority, and uncertainty in the legal framework. Under the auspices of an interim government installed by the military in the summer of 2013, a new constitution was finalized and approved by referendum in January 2014. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was elected president in May 2014, and a new parliament was elected in December 2015.

Prior to and since the 2011 Revolution, civil society in Egypt has been governed by the provisions of the Law on Associations and Community Foundations (Law 84 of 2002) and the Implementing Regulation for Law 84 of 2002  (Ministry of Social Affairs [Now Ministry of Social Solidarity and Justice] Decree 178 of 2002), which implements and clarifies the provisions of the parliamentary law. Despite the highly restrictive nature of these laws, Egypt remains home to a relatively large and vibrant civil society sector. 

While it may seem incongruous that so many NGOs and civil society groups can exist in a country whose NGO law is among the most restrictive in the world, the effect of the restrictive legal framework in Egypt has not been to ban civil society outright but rather to give enormous discretionary powers to the Ministry of Social Solidarity and other government agencies. In practice, this authority has been brought to bear against organizations and individuals that have crossed the government’s ‘red lines’ in pushing for social reform and political liberalization. 

At times, the exact location of the ‘red lines’ has been less clear, such that civil society organizations were increasingly forced to operate in a climate of fear, limitation, and uncertainty. Particularly after 2013, however, the government has engaged in a more overt crackdown on civil society, with a focus on organizations engaged in human rights work. In June 2013, a criminal court sentenced to prison forty-three NGO employees, including sixteen Americans, from five NGOs for receiving foreign funding without permission. The court also ordered that the five NGOs cease operations in Egypt and that their funds be confiscated. In 2014, the government issued amendments to the Penal Code that could result in life imprisonment for the receipt of foreign funds to undermine national security. In early 2016, the government announced that it had reopened that criminal action, Case Number 173/2011, this time focusing on Egyptian organizations that had received funding from outside Egypt. Throughout 2016 and into 2017, a number of Egypt’s most prominent civil society leaders were banned from travel, and several had their personal and organizational assets frozen under court order in connection with the case. Others were detained and interrogated. The case remains one of many against members of Egypt’s civil society, illustrating a broad governmental campaign to restrict civic freedoms and control dissent.

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At a Glance

Organizational Forms Associations, Foundations, and Not-for-Profit Companies
Registration Body Ministry of Social Solidarity and Justice(associations and foundations)
Ministry Industry and Trade (not-for-profit companies)
Approximate Number 47,312 (2016 estimate). This number from the Ministry of Social Solidarity refers to associations and foundations registered under Law 84 of 2002.
Barriers to Entry Registration is mandatory; informal (unregistered) associations are prohibited. Grounds for denial of registration are overly vague, inviting the exercise of excessive government discretion.
Barriers to Activities Requirements relating to the General Assembly meetings invite interference in internal affairs of the association. Grounds for dissolution are overly vague, inviting the exercise of excessive government discretion. Sanctions for legal violations include imprisonment.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy The law prohibits NGO engagement in “political activities” – which has been used to limit NGO advocacy activity. Criminal defamation laws have been used to silence critics of the Government.
Barriers to International Contact Advance Ministry approval is required to join or affiliate with a foreign organization.
Barriers to Resources Advance Ministry approval is required to receive foreign funds or funds from Egyptian individuals abroad.
Barriers to Assembly Excessive force used against protesters, arbitrary detainment of participants in protests, and burdensome restrictions on organizers of protests.

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Key Indicators

Population 88,487,396 (July 2015 est.)
Capital Cairo
Type of Government Republic
Life Expectancy at Birth

Male: 71.06 years
Female: 76.47 years (2015 est.)

Literacy Rate

Male: 82.2%
Female: 65.4% (2015 est.)

Religious Groups Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%
Ethnic Groups Egyptian 99.6%, other 0.4% (2006 census)
GDP Per Capita (PPP) $11,800 (2015 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2016.

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International Rankings

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best - worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 108 (2015) 1 – 182
World Bank Rule of Law Index 36 (2015) 100 – 0
World Bank Voice & Accountability Index 18 (2015) 100 – 0
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 108 (2016) 1 – 113
Transparency International 88 (2015) 1 180
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: Not Free
Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 5 (2017)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 7
1 – 7
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index 38 (2016) 177 – 1

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Legal Snapshot

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 1982
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) No --
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 1982
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) Yes 1957
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1967
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1981
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women No --
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1990
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) Yes 1993
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2008
Key Regional Agreements Ratification* Year
Arab Charter on Human Rights Yes 2004 (signed but not ratified)
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights Yes 1984
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child No --
Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community No --
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa No --
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights No --

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

Egypt’s current Constitution was adopted by popular referendum in January 2014. The constitution contains numerous relevant rights protections, although most of these have yet to see significant enforcement in practice. Relevant Constitutional provisions include:

Article 65 Freedom of thought:
Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed.

All individuals have the right to express their opinion through speech, writing, imagery, or any other means of expression and publication.

Article 70 Freedom of the press:
Freedom of press and printing, along with paper, visual, audio and digital distribution is guaranteed. Egyptians -- whether natural or legal persons, public or private -- have the right to own and issue newspapers and establish visual, audio and digital media outlets.
Newspapers may be issued once notification is given as regulated by law. The law shall regulate ownership and establishment procedures for visual and radio broadcast stations in addition to online newspapers.

Article 71 Freedom of publication:
It is prohibited to censor, confiscate, suspend or shut down Egyptian newspapers and media outlets in any way. Exception may be made for limited censorship in time of war or general mobilization.
No custodial sanction shall be imposed for crimes committed by way of publication or the public nature thereof. Punishments for crimes connected with incitement to violence or discrimination amongst citizens, or impugning the honor of individuals are specified by law.

Article 73 Freedom of assembly:
Citizens have the right to organize public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protest, while not carrying weapons of any type, upon providing notification as regulated by law.
The right to peaceful, private meetings is guaranteed, without the need for prior notification. Security forces may not attend, monitor or eavesdrop on such gatherings.

Article 74 Freedom to form political parties:
Citizens have the right to form political parties by notification as regulated by the law. No political activity may be exercised or political parties formed on the basis of religion, or discrimination based on sex, origin, sect or geographic location, nor may any activity be practiced that is hostile to democracy, secretive, or which possesses a military or quasi-military nature.

Parties may only dissolved by a judicial ruling.

Article 75 Right to establish associations:
Citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations and institutions on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality upon notification.

They shall be allowed to engage in activities freely. Administrative agencies shall not interfere in the affairs of such organizations, dissolve them, their board of directors, or their board of trustees except by a judicial ruling.

The establishment or continuation of non-governmental organizations and institutions whose structure and activities are operated and conducted in secret, or which possess a military or quasi-military character are forbidden, as regulated by law.

Article 76 Right to form syndicates:
The establishment of federations and syndicates on a democratic basis is a right guaranteed by law. Such federations and syndicates will possess legal personality, be able to practice their activities freely, contribute to improving the skills of its members, defend their rights and protect their interests.

The state guarantees the independence of all federations and syndicates. The boards of directors thereof may only dissolved by a judicial ruling.

Syndicates may not be established within governmental bodies.

Article 77 Trade unions:
The law shall regulate the establishment and administration of professional syndicates on a democratic basis, guarantee their independence, and specify their resources and the way members are recorded and held accountable for their behavior while performing their professional activities, according to ethical codes of moral and professional conduct.

No profession may establish more than one syndicate. Receivership may not be imposed nor may administrative bodies intervene in the affairs of such syndicates, and their boards of directors may only be dissolved by a judicial ruling. All legislation pertaining to a given profession shall be submitted to the relevant syndicate for consultation.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:

  • Constitution of Arab Republic of Egypt of 2014
  • Civil Code (Law 131 of 1948 as amended)
  • Commercial Register Law (Law 34 of 1976 as amended by Law 98 of 1996)
  • Law on Associations and Foundations (Law 84 of 2002) [English] [عربي]
  • Implementing Regulation for Law 84 of 2002 (Ministry of Social Affairs Decree 178 of 2002) [English] [عربي]
  • Law on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations (Law 107 of 2013)
  • Assembly Law of 1914 (Law 107 above did not replace this law, which is still on the books and may be used to impose additional penal sanctions)

Pending Legislative Initiatives

On November 29, 2016, Egypt’s Parliament approved a new, extremely restrictive draft law (English) (Arabic) to govern civil society organizations (CSOs). However, upon Parliament’s approval, the draft law was not submitted to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for ratification. As of May 2017, the draft law had not been approved.

The draft law is intended to replace the restrictive Mubarak-era Law 84 of 2002 on Associations and Foundations, yet is in many ways the most oppressive draft seen yet in Egypt, containing the full catalogue of restrictions included in the current law and previous draft laws, as well as some novel ones. These include provisions

  • requiring prior permission from the government before CSOs may accept foreign funding;
  • requiring government permission before foreign CSOs may operate in Egypt;
  • requiring government permission before CSOs may in any way work with foreign organizations or foreign experts;
  • limiting CSOs’ activities including by requiring government permission to conduct surveys or publish reports;
  • raising the fee for CSO registration and giving the government broad discretion to refuse to register a CSO; and
  • heightening the penalties for violations of the law to include prison sentences and steep fines.  

Please check back in with the Civic Freedom Monitor for updates on the status of the draft law.

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Legal Analysis

Organizational Forms

Law 84 of 2002 allows for the creation of associations, foundations (i.e, non-governmental institutions), and unions.  In addition, not-for-profit companies can be established by virtue of provisions in the Egyptian Civil Code and Corporate Code.

According to Law 84 of 2002, an association is a “group with a formal structure continuing for a definite or indefinite period and formed by natural or juridical persons, or both together, whose number is not less than ten in all cases, for a purpose other than gaining physical profit.” (Article 1)

A foundation or non-governmental institution is established where a fund is designated for a definite or indefinite period of time, for the realization of a purpose other than profit. (Article 56)

[The remainder of this report will focus on associations, as the association is overwhelmingly the most common organizational form.]

Public Benefit Status

Associations pursuing “general interest” purposes may be recognized as “associations of public benefit” by presidential decree, upon the request of the association or of the government-controlled General Union for Associations and Non-Governmental Institutions (Foundations). (Articles 48, 49)  The criteria for attaining public benefit status are not clearly defined and the President’s decision not clearly guided by objective standards. According to Article 49:

Any association visualizing the realization of a general interest upon or after its foundation may be vested with the quality of public benefit, by decree of the President of the Republic, upon the request of the association, or of the administrative authority or the General Union for Associations and Non-Governmental Institutions, and the approval of the association in both cases.

According to Article 51 of Law 84 of 2002, public benefit organizations have access to direct government funding. In practice, many public benefit organizations have had close political links to the ruling party or President. 

Barriers to Entry

Law 84 of 2002 includes of a number of legal barriers to the establishment of associations. First, the law requires that all associations be registered in order to operate; in other words, informal [unregistered] associations are prohibited. Second, the law includes vague grounds for denial of registration, thereby inviting subjective and arbitrary government decision-making. Registration can be refused if the association’s purposes “threaten the national unity,” for instance, or run “against public order and public attitude." The Ministry used these grounds in early 2015 to deny registration to the Foundation of the Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance, a non-profit foundation that supports victims of violent assault and abduction. Third, many international NGOs seeking to establish and register branch offices in Egypt have faced great difficulty in doing so.

Barriers to Operational Activity

Barriers to operational activity in Egypt take the form of governmental interference in internal affairs, vague grounds for dissolution, the imposition of harsh sanctions, and extra-legal harassment by security authorities.

First, Law 84 of 2002 expressly authorizes the Government to interfere in the internal affairs of associations. Specifically:

  • The administrative authority has the right to call a General Assembly meeting (Article 25);
  • The association must send a copy of the papers tabled before the General Assembly to the administrative authority at least 15 days before convening the Assembly (Article 26);
  • The association must provide the administrative authority with a copy of the minutes of the General Assembly meeting within 30 days from the meeting (Article 26);
  • The Minister of Social Affairs may appoint acting members of the Board of Directors where there are insufficient members to hold a meeting (Article 40); and
  • The Minister may dissolve the board of directors if the board has not convened a meeting of the General Assembly for two consecutive years (Article 42). 

Second, the law includes vague grounds for dissolution, thereby inviting subjective and arbitrary decision-making on dissolution decisions. Vague grounds include:

  • Subscribing to or joining any club, organization, society or authority outside Egypt without first informing the administrative authority; and
  • Threatening the national unity or public order or public attitude. 

Third, Egyptian law makes harsh sanctions – including imprisonment – available for violations of the law. Conducting activities as an unregistered association, conducting activities that threaten the national unity, and receiving foreign funds without prior governmental approval are all examples of violations that could lead to the imposition of sanctions, including imprisonment. Certain provisions of the Penal Code, in particular Articles 86bis and 98, also penalize particular activities relating to associations.

Finally, the security apparatus in Egypt is known for interfering with associational activity. In December 2011, for instance, authorities raided and shut down the offices of six international and Egyptian organizations, and commenced a two-year trial of NGO employees marked by procedural violations. In December 2013, the offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights were raided and six employees detained and beaten. Since the Revolution of January 25, 2011, Egypt has also witnessed a number of concerted media campaigns against NGOs, aimed at discrediting human rights associations in particular.

Barriers to Speech / Advocacy

Egyptian law prohibits all “political activities” of NGOs. Regulations indicate that prohibited political activities include “advocating the program of one of the political parties, contributing to electoral campaigns, and putting forth candidates for office.” (Regulations to Law No. 84/2002 on Associations and Non-Governmental Institutions (Article 25)) The Egyptian Government, however, has not distinguished between a political campaign for office and public policy activities. One example is the case of the Egyptian Association Against Torture. The Administrative Judiciary Court refused to register the association on December 15, 2005, because the court decided that the group’s mission to pressure the government to eliminate torture in police stations and prisons was “political activity;” consequently, the association was prohibited from launching its activities.

Harsh defamation and insult laws, often involving criminal penalties, have also been used to silence critics of Egypt’s Government. This was the case prior to the 2011 Revolution and has remained the case afterwards, as countless provisions criminalizing defamation of public authorities in particular remain part of the Penal Code. This had led to legal charges against journalists and others, such as satirist Bassem Youssef, whose television show was famous for mocking Egypt’s military and political leaders. In addition to laws severely penalizing defamation and related offenses, Egyptian law includes other restrictions on speech, such as penalties for spreading false information or harming public morals.

Barriers to International Contact

Egyptian law requires advance approval from the Ministry of Social Solidarity in order to join any organization or society headquartered outside of Egypt. Egyptian authorities may prevent individuals (including association representatives and civil society activists) from traveling outside Egypt to participate in international conferences and meetings. Authorities may also prevent representatives of international organizations from entering Egypt. 

Barriers to Resources

Foreign Funding

Law 84 prohibits any association from receiving foreign funds – whether from foreign individuals or from foreign authorities (including their representatives inside Egypt) – without advance approval from the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Securing ministerial approval may require a wait of two months or more, during which time the Ministry reviews the request for approval. The failure to secure approval can lead to dissolution. For example, on April 27, 2009, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) received a dissolution decree, alleging that the EOHR received foreign funding without authorization. The dissolution order reportedly came soon after EOHR published its 2008 Annual Report, which contained criticism of the Egyptian Government.

Sending funds from an Egyptian NGO to a natural or legal person abroad also requires advance approval from the Ministry of Social Solidarity. (The law makes an exception for scientific and technical books, magazines, publications, and brochures.) Law 84 applies the same sanctions for sending and receiving foreign funding without government approval.

Egypt’s Penal Code creates additional restrictions on foreign funding. Following amendments in September 2014, Penal Code Article 78 provides for expanded penalties on anyone who accepts foreign funds in order to conduct activities deemed harmful to Egypt’s national interests and unity. Article 78 punishes with life in prison and a steep fine anyone who receives funding or other support from a foreign source, with the intent to “harm the national interest,” “compromise national unity,” or “breach security or public peace.” The provisions impose the same penalty of a life sentence on anyone who gives or offers such support, or “facilitates” its receipt. Human rights organizations and activists fear that the vague language and broad terms of Article 78 could be used to prosecute them for activity that is critical of the government.

Domestic Funding

The barriers against foreign funding also apply to some categories of domestic funding. Specifically, the law requires that associations seeking funds from Egyptian individuals also secure advance approval from the Ministry. Presumably, the failure to do so carries with it the same risk of dissolution.

Barriers to Assembly

Since the January 25, 2011 Revolution it is estimated that more than 3,000 individuals have been killed in the context of demonstrations – the majority in instances of excessive use of force by authorities. Numerous individuals have been detained and charged with violating provisions of the law governing protests, even in the absence of any individual evidence against them; others are not charged at all, but spend extensive time in periodically-renewed pretrial detention.

On November 24, 2013, interim President Adly Mansour approved a controversial new law to regulate public assembly in Egypt, including marches, demonstrations, and public meetings of ten people or more. As originally issued, the law required assembly organizers to notify the Interior Ministry at least three days before assembling, and allows the Ministry to ban protests or impose other harsh penalties, including imprisonment, for a range of vaguely defined acts such as “violating the public order,” “impeding the interests of citizens,” or “obstructing traffic.” Under amendments to the law approved in March 2017, the Interior Ministry no longer has blanket authority to ban protests; that power was transferred to the judiciary. Accordingly, if a court refuses an organizer’s notification of intent to protest, the organizer may appeal. The amendments modify Article 10 of the law in accordance with the December 2016 ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The law also fails to place adequate restrictions on the use of force to break up assemblies. In the months and years since the law was issued, police have forcibly dispersed numerous peaceful protests; it is estimated that hundreds of individuals have been arrested and imprisoned under the new law. These include prominent activists such as Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a leader of the "No to Military Trials" campaign, who was arrested for organizing an unauthorized protest and sentenced in 2015 to five years in prison. Egypt’s Illegal Assembly Law of 1914 also remains in effect, and, together with various provisions of the Penal Code, is often used to bring additional charges against individuals detained in the context of protests.

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Reports

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Universal Periodic Review 2014: Egypt
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Egypt
USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes Not available
U.S. State Department 2014 Human Rights Report: Egypt
Fragile States Index Reports 2015 Foreign Policy Fragile States Index
IMF Country Reports Arab Republic of Egypt: Selected Issues: 2007
Arab Republic of Egypt: Selected Issues: 2005
International Commission of Jurists ICJ Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of Egypt August 2009
Egypt - ACIJLP Organizes the First Activities of its Campaign "Empowering Women to Hold Judiciary Positions in Egypt": 2006
NGO Regulation Network Reports Egypt - Fast Facts
CIVICUS Civil Society Index Reports Civil Society Index - Country Report for Egypt
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Egypt

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News and Additional Resources

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

Egypt’s state of emergency may act to further silence press (April 2017)
Soon after the church bombings of April 9, Egyptian President Sisi announced a three-month state of emergency. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the measure is a further sign of Sisi's determination to control the media and broader flow of information in the country.

Rights lawyer jailed for 10 years, issued 5-year social media ban (April 2017)
Rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of insulting the president, misusing social media, and inciting violence. The Alexandria Criminal Court ordered Ramadan to remain under house arrest for five years, and banned him from using social media for the same period. The ruling was issued according to Terrorism Law 94/2015, which enables courts to apply probational measures as well as prison sentences, and can include preventing the use of certain communication methods.

Egypt's parliament regulates NGOs in law activists says is repressive (November 2016)
Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly endorsed a law regulating non-governmental organizations on Tuesday that human rights groups and activists say effectively bans their work and makes it harder for charities to operate. The bill restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non- compliance. It bans NGOs from conducting fieldwork or polls without permission or "from cooperating in any way with any international body without the necessary approval". The bill also stipulates that foreign NGOs be overseen by a regulating agency that includes representatives of Egypt's military, intelligence service and interior ministry.

Egypt parliament finally approves new NGO law (November 2016)
Two thirds of Egypt's MPs approved a new 89-Article law aimed at regulating the operations of NGOs in the country. After gaining the approval of the overwhelming majority of MPs, Abdel-Aal said Egypt's parliament has taken a historic move towards regulating the operations of NGOs on a new basis that would safeguard national security and prevents chaos.

New regulation mandates NGOs consult ministry security department on activities (August 2016)
In a letter sent to several nongovernmental organizations, the Ministry of Social Solidarity has detailed a new regulation whereby NGOs must consult with the ministry’s security department regarding all planned activities. According to the letter, registered NGOs must notify the security department of any planned visits, conferences, or panels, and least one and a half months in advance.

Retaliation still continues against the backdrop of “Foreign Funding” case (May 2016)
Seven leading human rights groups issued a joint statement condemning the escalated measures undertaken by Egypt’s government against independent human rights organizations.

Egypt human rights defender accused of belonging to terrorist group (April 2016)
Ahmad Abdallah, a prominent human rights defender and the head of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), was arrested in Egypt and accused by the government of a series of offenses including, “belonging to a terrorist group.” ECRF has among other things worked to document an alarming rise in forced disappearances in Egypt over the past year.

UN experts urge Egypt to end ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders (April 2016)
Three UN human rights experts raised alarm at the continuing crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Egypt. They warned that many NGOs have been closed down, and human rights defenders have been interrogated by the security forces, subjected to travel bans, and had their assets frozen in retaliation for their legitimate and peaceful human rights work.

Judge imposes gag order on NGO foreign funding case (March 2016)
Investigating Judge Hesham Abdel Meguid issued a gag order on the recently reopened case against local NGOs accused of unlawfully accepting foreign funds, prohibiting any type of media outlet form publishing anything on the case other than statements issued by the presiding judges, until investigations are complete.

Nazra for Feminist Studies summoned for investigation in re-opened NGO case (March 2016)
Nazra for Feminist Studies received summons for investigation in the re-opened 2011 case against a number of NGOs for operating and receiving foreign funding without a license. In the original case, filed in 2011, 43 staff from foreign NGOs were tried and sentenced to prison in June 2013; local NGOs were implicated in the investigation but not brought to trial at that time. 2011

NGO case reopened against Hossam Bahgat, Gamal Eid and others (March 2016)
A criminal court in Cairo will review a ruling to freeze the assets of four defendants, including Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid, pending investigations into charges that they illegally received foreign funding for their NGOs, in a case dating back to 2011. Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and Eid, Director of Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), are also barred from leaving Egypt.

Rights lawyer accused of managing illegal operation (March 2016)
Rights Lawyer and Director of the United Group law firm Negad al-Boraie was interrogated for three hours on six charges including managing an illegal organization. According to a statement issued by United Group, Boraie has been charged with establishing an unlicensed entity with the intent of "inciting resistance to authorities, implementing human rights activities without a license.. and deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest."

Egypt dissolves 57 NGOs for "(Muslim) Brotherhood ties" (September 2015)
The Ministry of Social Solidarity ordered the closures of NGOs on the basis of the their alleged "ties with the Muslim Brotherhood," which was banned in 2013. This brings the number of NGOs dissolved by the government in 2015 to 380.

Renewed Crackdown on Independent Groups (June 2015)
Egyptian authorities have brought increasing pressure to bear on independent NGOs in Egypt that receive foreign funding or have criticized government policies, including by means of official harassment, travel bans, and threats of prosecution or violence.

Detentions, terrorist incidents increased in the first quarter of 2015 (April 2015)
According to a report by the Democracy Index, affiliated with the Cairo-based International Development Center, 1,353 protests took place in the first three months of 2015, 40 percent of which were related to economic and social demands. The report said that both the number of detentions by Egyptian authorities and the number of terrorist incidents increased in the first quarter of 2015 as well.

Concerns over human rights and civil society discussed before UNHRC (March 2015)
A group of 19 Egyptian human rights organisations forming a coalition named The Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations (The Forum) delivered a speech before the UN's Human Right's Council (UNHRC) raising concerns over the human rights situation in Egypt. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) delivered the speech on behalf of The Forum. It pointed to “several instances demonstrating how human rights defenders and civil society organisations are being targeted, whether through security crackdowns, unfair prosecutions, travel bans, extrajudicial killings, and repressive legislation”. The CIHRS speech asserted that “thus far there has been no genuine political will to stop violations against human rights defenders in Egypt and uphold the work of rights groups”.

Memorandum to the President from the CIHRS on the Constitution, Law, and the Emancipation of Civil Society (September 2014
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent a memorandum signed by 23 other rights organizations to President Sisi, seeking the withdrawal of restrictive draft NGO law released by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and cancellation of the Ministry's registration warning issued on 18 July 2014.

Egypt: Draft Law Threatens Independent Organizations (July 2014)
Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning the draft law on NGOs released by Egypt's Ministry of Social Solidarity. Among other things, the draft law "would make all activities of associations.. subject to government veto," "empower the government and security agencies to dissolve existing groups, pending a court order, or refuse to license new groups if it decided their activities could 'threaten national unity.'"

The Confiscation of Wasla: A Dangerous Escalation in Harassment of Human Rights (June 2014)
In an escalation of the crackdown on rights groups, Egyptian security forces have confiscated Issue No. 72 of Wasla, a magazine issued by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), and arrested a worker at the press where the publication was being printed, charging him with possession of publications that call for the overthrow of the regime and which promote a terrorist organization. The worker will be held in pre-trail detention for four days pending investigations.

Egyptian president must reject flawed anti-terrorism laws (April 2014)
New counter-terrorism legislation set to be approved by Egypt's president is deeply flawed and must be scrapped or fundamentally revised, Amnesty International said. Two draft anti-terror laws, which were sent to interim president Adly Mansour on April 3 and could be signed off at any time, would give the Egyptian authorities increased powers to muzzle freedom of expression and imprison opponents and critics. "These deeply flawed draft laws can be abused because they include an increasingly broad and vague definition of terrorism," warned Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

News Archives



Rights groups outraged by the raid of ECESR
(December 2013)

No Acknowledgment or Justice for Mass Protester Killings: Set Up a Fact-Finding Committee as a First Step
(December 2013)

Egypt Warns Protesters Will Be Treated As Foreign Agents Ahead Of Military Celebrations (October 2013)

Egypt sentences American NGO workers to jail (June 2013)

NGO draft law ‘strikes fear’ into civil society (June 2013)

Ahmed Fahmi: NGO law fears unfounded (May 2013)

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Egypt's NGO Law (April 2013)

Statement on Repressive NGO Law (February 2013)

Court ruling to block YouTube is disproportionate and violates right to information (February 2013)

Final draft of NGO law sent to Cabinet (February 2013)

NGOs talk human rights violations with EU, US representatives (February 2013)

Problematic NGO law About to Be Enacted (February 2013)

Egyptian Lawyer on Trial for Working With ‘Illegal Organization’ (January 2013)

Who funds Egypt's Islamists? (January 2013)

NGOs can apply to oversee Egypt parliament polls until 15 February: SEC (January 2013)

Mostly forgotten, Egyptian trial of US NGO workers drags on (January 2013)

Egypt's Constituent Assembly to become an NGO (January 2013)

NGOs reject Morsi’s constitutional declaration (December 2012)

Demonstrations in Tahrir Call for Annulling Constitutional Declaration (November 2012)

Commissioner Füle in Egypt: Civil society has key role in delivering reform (November 2012)

Campaign assembles NGOs against draft constitution (November 2012)

Rights groups say excluded from EU talks (November 2012)

The nationalization of Egypt’s civil society (November 2012)

Under new draft law foreign funding still requires permits (October 2012)

Egypt court to hear testimony in NGO foreign funding case in November (October 2012)

Fix draft Constitution to protect key rights (October 2012)

Civil society has its own draft law (October 2012)

Protection sought for political and non-governmental organizations (October 2012)

Arab League, OIC proposals out of step with progress on freedom of expression (September 2012)

Alarm raised over Egypt constitution (September 2012)

Intellectuals and rights advocates blast draft Egypt Charter on Freedoms (September 2012)

Government studies new law to regulate foreign capital (September 2012)

Rumors that judge of NGO case was sent to criminal court are false, say officials (August 2012)

Status of Muslim Brotherhood legal (August 2012)

"We respect peaceful protest and demonstration," says Muslim Brotherhood (August 2012)

US concerned about freedom of speech in Egypt, Bahrain (August 2012)

Architect of Egypt’s NGO crackdown bows out (July 2012)

Funding for NGOs in decline following crackdown (July 2012)

NGOs see funding drying up as international donors grow scared (June 2012)

NGO case ruling could widen crackdown on civil society, says American defendant (June 2012)

Draft law will ensure Mubarak re-trial, MP Hamzawy (June 2012)

Trial of NGO workers set to resume in Egypt (June 2012)

NGO dispute means fewer monitors for Egypt vote (May 2012)

EOHR raises critical analysis for the NGO’s draft law made by Muslim Brotherhood (May 2012)

Representatives of NGOs reject new draft law (April 2012)

Egypt bans NGOs using the "State Sovereignty" argument (April 2012)

Coptic Orphans NGO denied permission to work in Egypt (April 2012)

Joint press release by 25 Egyptian human rights organizations (April 2012)

U.S. pressing Interpol to deny Egypt's request to arrest NGO workers (April 2012)

Cairo refused LE21 million in foreign NGO funding since January 25th uprising (March 2012)

Recent opinions about the restrictions on CSOs in Egypt (March 2012)

American activists fly out of Egypt, defusing row (March 2012)

Amendments to Law on Associations and Foundations to undercut foreign funding (February 2012)

Egypt: Govt-U.S. standoff could hit 40,000 NGOs (February 2012)

Egypt judges in NGO funding trial resign (February 2012)

NGO workers could face 5 years in prison, Egyptian judges say (February 2012)

Egypt names 19 Americans to face trial on NGO funding (February 2012)

Egypt officials see end to U.S. NGO stand-off (February 2012)

EOHR submits the NGOs draft law to the Parliament (January 2012)

NGOs reject draft law regulating their activity (January 2012)

Harassment in Egypt (January 2012)

HRW Statement: Dismantle Tools of Repression (January 2012)

Egypt's NGOs must be protected (January 2012)

U.S.-funded NGOs in Egypt ‘shocked’ by raid on offices, deny funding parties or groups (January 2012)

Unwanted: NGOs in post-revolution Egypt (November 2011) 

The military council's policy of exclusion and marginalization of institutions of civil society (October 2011)

Egypt's NGOs receive $167m from abroad (October 2011)

Tough post-revolution reality for NGOs in Egypt (October 2011)

NGOs face smear campaign ahead of elections (October 2011) 

Minister rejects US funding of unregistered NGOs (October 2011) 

The Egyptian authorities should bring an end to attacks against civil society organizations (October 2011) 

Egypt NGOs may fade if denied foreign funding (September 2011) 

Authorities to investigate funding of unregistered NGOs (September 2011)

Egypt ups pressure on foreign funding to NGOs (September 2011) 

Civil society seeks to fight back against govt attacks (August 2011)

US defends aid as Egypt probes NGO foreign funding (August 2011) 

US aid to Egypt's civil society: a need, a blessing and a curse (August 2011)

Egyptian banks to inform government of NGO banking transfers (August 2011)

Government accused of suppressing freedoms (July 2011) 

Foreign funding of Egyptian rights groups causes stir in political discourse (July 2011)

Egypt govt to form fact-finding committee over NGO funding (July 2011)

US violated Egypt’s sovereignty by offering funds to NGOs, says minister (July 2011)

Is Egypt considering a Freedom of Information law? (June 2011)

Human rights advocates want new constitution before elections (June 2011)

Human rights reform an urgent priority (June 2011) 

Civil society a force in Egypt’s democratization (April 2011) 

Youth coalition to protest new law criminalizing demonstrations (March 2011) 

New Egyptian law criminalizes protests (March 2011)

Follow the Egyptian money (February 2011)

NGOs in Egypt adjust to turmoil (February 2011) 

Does Egypt need a new constitution? (February 2011) 

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The foregoing information was collected by ICNL LLC Middle East / North Africa Regional office in Amman, Jordan.