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On July 15, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a Q&A demonstrating the significant shortcomings of Egypt’s 2019 NGO law, which “does not ease restrictions on freedom of association in the least.” 

After Egypt passed a draconian NGO law in 2017 (despite promises not to do so), the United States withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. In response to this and the international outcry over what Amnesty International called “a death sentence for human rights groups in the country,” the government withdrew the law and replaced it with Law 149 in 2019.

HRW’s report, however, makes clear that Law 149 and the implementing regulations—which were published earlier this year—are just as disastrous for independent groups, including human rights organizations. The new law shows that the government remains “determined to throttle any genuine manifestations of civil society.”

In addition to countering the Egyptian government’s disinformation surrounding the law and showing how it enshrines “pervasive and routine government and security intervention in and surveillance of the work of independent groups,” the report also demonstrates how the law fits into the government’s wider efforts to throttle independent voices in the country. Indeed, “there has not been any policy change or the slightest shift in how the government and its security agencies have been dealing with independent groups and nongovernmental organizations, which is to treat them mainly as a threat and not an asset.”
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