New regulation mandates NGOs consult ministry security department regarding activities

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.

A copy of the letter shared with Mada Masr asserts that organizations registered with the ministry must notify the Social Affairs Directorate’s security department of any planned visits, conferences or panels, at least one and a half months a half in advance.

Head of the Social Solidarity Ministry’s NGO department Khaled Soltan has said he is does not know anything about the regulation, adding that he will inquire about it. However, he failed to respond to Mada Masr’s subsequent request for comment.

Talaat Abdel Qawy, the head of the General Federation for Civil Society Organizations, has also denied knowing about the regulation.

The new regulation would represent the latest in a series of restrictions imposed on civil society and human rights organizations.

The Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies has canceled the annual training program on human rights it has held for students and graduates for the past 22 years. Explaining the decision in a published statement, the center wrote, “It has become impossible to find a safe space for youth for learning and creativity. Prisons have become the fate of all those who care about public matters.”

In June, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered that the assets of the Andalus Center for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies and those of its founder, Ahmad Samih, be frozen.

The court is also reviewing an investigative judge’s request to freeze the assets of human rights defenders Hossam Bahgat, the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Gamal Eid, the head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and Bahey Al-Din Hassan, the founder of the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies. The court is set to hear the case on September 17.

Bahgat, Eid and Mohamed Zarea, the projects manager at the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies, have also been issued travels.

In February, the Egyptian government ordered the closure of the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, saying that the center had violated the set of activities it is allowed to do.

AD