Amnesty slams Egypt's newly enforced NGO law

31.05.2017

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Tuesday described a newly enforced law regulating the work of non-governmental organisations in Egypt as a "death sentence" for human rights groups.

"This law is a catastrophic blow for human rights groups working in Egypt. The severity of the restrictions imposed by this law threatens to annihilate NGOs in the country, at a time when the authorities' escalating crackdown on dissent makes their work more important than ever", said Campaigns Director for North Africa at Amnesty International, Najia Bounaim.

The law was ratified by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, as reported by local media on Monday, six months after being approved by the parliament.

Since it was put forward by the government last year, the law has triggered controversy among Egyptian civil society and human rights associations.

Monday's step comes amid a crackdown by Egyptian authorities on human rights advocates and the independent press. Around 21 news platforms have been blocked in Egypt since last week. The law imposes strict restrictions on the establishment of NGOs and grants the government enormous powers over them.

Violations of regulations set by the law are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to one million Egyptian pounds (55,000 US dollars).

Since 2011, the Egyptian judiciary has been looking at claims accusing local and international organisations and individuals of working in Egypt without permission.

US, German and Norwegian nationals are among the defendants and all have been deported from Egypt, although there has been no ruling by the court.

Dozens of Egyptian human rights advocates have been banned from travel and seven organisations and 10 individuals have had their assets frozen.    (dpa)

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