Amnesty International condemns Egypt’s NGO bill

Amnesty International has condemned a controversial bill regulating the creation and activities of civil society organizations in Egypt.  Many activists and civil society workers in the country believe the bill would impose stifling restrictions on their activities.
President Mohamed Morsy, meeting with representatives of civil society organizations on Wednesday, said that he had submitted the draft to the Shura Council for approval.  
In its report on Wednesday, Amnesty International slammed the draft, initially proposed in early 2012 by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, as a "death blow" to civil society, warning that it would give the state vast influence over the approval, registration, and financial administration of such organizations.
"[The law] would allow for the creation of a new Coordinating Committee, likely to include representatives of security and intelligence agencies. Those found in violation of the law would face hefty fines and potential prison sentences,” Amnesty's report explained.
“If they pass the law in its current form, the Egyptian authorities would be sending the message that little has changed since the Mubarak era, when state officials restricted independent human rights organizations to prevent them from exposing abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
The international organization said that the latest version of the bill ignores recommendations by international human rights organizations, including those from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as its own.  Amnesty is demanding that the draft be modified in accordance to international standards.
"Under the proposed law, any organization seeking official registration would have to notify the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs, which would be able to reject its application. This procedure would require a form of prior authorization, which is inconsistent with international standards,” the report said.