Dec 01 2016
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released the following statement today on the Egyptian parliament’s passage of legislation regulating non-governmental organizations (NGOs):
“The Egyptian parliament’s passage of draconian legislation regulating non-governmental organizations (NGOs) undermines Egypt’s stated commitment to protecting constitutionally-guaranteed rights and to furthering Egypt’s democratic transition. We urge President al-Sisi to reject this legislation and uphold Egypt’s constitutional commitment to freedom of association and assembly.
“This legislation would effectively subject the operation of independent NGOs to powerful Egyptian security agencies. Egypt’s longstanding and vibrant civil society would be placed under unprecedented pressure to cede control of nearly all of their activities to the Egyptian government, or risk massive fines or lengthy prison sentences.
“The intent of this legislation is clear: to starve independent Egyptian civil society of funding and bring all of their activities under state control, and make it essentially impossible for foreign NGOs to operate in Egypt. These include organizations that have worked in Egypt for decades to improve the lives of Egyptians by increasing access to education, basic health and medical services, and employment opportunities.
“Moreover, this legislation will only deepen the NGO crisis that began in 2011 with dozens of American and international NGO workers wrongfully convicted and a number of NGOs shut down. For years, we have asked the Egyptian government to resolve Case No. 173 and pass a new NGO law that would enable Egyptian and international non-governmental organizations to operate without undue restrictions in the country. Yet the Egyptian government has rebuffed those requests. And the passage of this legislation would make resolution of this issue nearly impossible.
“Egypt has legitimate security and economic concerns to address. But passing a law which aims to effectively shut down civil society in Egypt will do nothing to make the country more safe or more prosperous. Instead, closing crucial channels for peaceful expression and association – and the delivery of much-needed food and health services – will only exacerbate Egypt’s problems and threaten long-term stability.
“Should President al-Sisi sign into law this draconian legislation, we will endeavor to strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on U.S. assistance for Egypt in fiscal years 2017 and 2018.”