By Gamal Essam El-Din – Ahram Online –
Egypt’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Magdi El-Agati said on Tuesday that a new government-drafted NGO law will soon be submitted to parliament.
In a Tuesday meeting with Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay, the French ambassador-at-large for human rights, El-Agati indicated that several laws will be redrafted in the coming period to go in line with Egypt’s new constitution.
“At the top of these is a new NGO law which will reflect the liberal philosophy of the constitution,” said El-Agati, adding that “the new draft law will make it much easier to set up NGOs.”
“The law states that NGOs can be set up only by notification, with its founders and members allowed to perform their activities with complete freedom, and that they can only be dissolved or banned under final judicial rulings.”
According to El-Agati, the law will help create a vibrant civil society in Egypt capable of defending human rights and boosting development.
El-Agati also indicated that he informed the French ambassador that “the Egyptian government strongly believes in respecting human rights.”
“This is clearly enshrined in the new constitution and the new government is doing its best to translate the constitution’s chapters on human rights into a reality,” said El-Agati.
To achieve this objective, El-Agati explained that a number of laws will be submitted to parliament to be enacted into final legislations that go in line with the constitution.
“While we are moving on the front of improving the human rights situation, we are also working on another front, which is stemming the tide of police violations of human rights,” said El-Agati, indicating that “new amendments of the police law aimed at stiffening penalties on policemen accused of violating human rights will soon be discussed by parliament.”
“The new legislative amendments show no mercy to policemen convicted of violating human rights,” said El-Agati, adding that parliament’s human rights committee will be reviewing the conditions of human rights in Egypt in the coming period.
El-Agati said he is happy that Egypt and France have stepped up cooperation in all fields in the last two years.
El-Agati expects thatEgyptian-French relations will reach a new peak when French President Francois Hollande visits Egypt next month.
Human Rights in Egypt
There has been a lot of international furore this month over the human rights situation in Egypt.
On 18 March, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement saying he was “deeply concerned by the deterioration in the human rights situation in Egypt, including a decision to reopen an investigation into human rights NGOs.”
Kerry’s statement came a few hours after an Egyptian judicial committee reopened a five-year-old investigation into human rights organisations accused of receiving foreign funding illegally, and ordered the freezing of assets of four leading Egyptian human rights workers and their families.
Egyptian MPs swiftly and angrily reacted to Kerry’s statement, accusing him of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and defending illegal practices.
Some MPs went so far as to demand a blanket ban be imposed on foreign funding of NGOs.
An Egyptian parliamentary delegation will head to Brussels next month to discuss human rights with the EU parliament.