Egypt: Controversial laws regulating NGOs result in fines and imprisonment
The Al-Kalema Center for Human Rights has expressed its shock regarding the recently issued judgment from Cairo Criminal Court, that has found a number of charitable organisations in breach of Egypt’s controversial NGO bill.The bill places strict restrictions upon the funding of NGOs working within Egypt and this case represents a clear sign that the courts are complying with the crackdown.
The ruling laid down the following sentences against The American Republican Institute,The American Democratic Institute, Freedom House and the American Institute for Journalists: a thousand pound fine and five years imprisonment for 27 defendants; a thousand pound fine and three years imprisonment for 14 defendants, a thousand pound fine and two years suspended sentence for 5 defendants and a one year suspended for the remaining defendants. None of the defendants were found innocent of the charges brought against them.
In addition, the NGOs in question were forced to disband and close all branches. All funds were seized by the police.
Al-Kalema Center believes that this judgment will lead to restrictions of freedom and will hinder civil society organizations in fulfilling their efforts to educate the citizens about their political and constitutional rights. Al-Kalema Center will study the reasons for this judgment as a prelude to issuing an appeal against it through the legal process.
It is worth mention that the case of foreign funding started in January 2012, when 43 persons working at foreign NGOs ( American, German, Norwegian) in Egypt, were arrested. The American defendants were released against a bail of 2 million pounds pending their case. Abdel Mo`ezz Ibrahim, Head of the Cairo Court of Appeal, stated that this crime is a misdemeanor and the maximum penalty in this case is a fine not to exceed 300 pounds.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Al-Kalema Centre