US Should Condemn Proposed NGO Law in Egypt, Says Human Rights Organization

A prominent non-governmental organization is urging the U.S. government to publicly condemn the newly proposed NGO law in Egypt, categorizing it as a setback for human rights.

Human Rights First (HRF), an American NGO, said the proposed law "would have a chilling effect on the ability of Egyptian NGOs in the first instance, but also international NGOs to support the democratic process in Egypt."

Fears are growing in Egypt that the law will repress civil society in Egypt even further and that the U.S "should go further and be more forceful with their condemnation," HRF said.

"The United States should show Egyptian civil society that it is firmly on their side in this struggle and will not support new laws that limit civil society groups' ability to fully participate in Egypt's troubled transition to democracy," said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley.

Dooley, who recently returned from Egypt, is the author of a report that suggests several steps for the U.S. government to take to help repair its relationship with Egyptian civil society groups.

Dooley noted the new legislation would hamper the functioning of a healthy civil society by suppressing fundamental freedoms.

"U.S. officials should speak out to forcefully and publicly voice opposition to this draconian legislation," Dooley said. "Speaking out against the law is an opportunity for the United States to show that it is prepared to criticize President Morsi and stand with civil society."

Dooley said the condemnation would also highlight that the interests of the U.S. in Egypt extend beyond that of its own NGOS and foreign funding cases.

Several draft versions of the law have been proposed, but they all bring NGOs and their funds under the control of the government. Additionally, their work would be subject to the approval of a committee that includes the security services.

"The United States should urge the adoption of a new NGO law that complies with international human rights standards and enables NGOs to receive financial support from sources independent of the government, including international sources. It should encourage the draft legislation proposed by 56 NGOs several months ago as the starting point for this process," Dooley concluded.