Egypt: Court Convicts NGO Employees, Orders NGO Closures

According to the Jurist, an Egyptian court recently convicted 43 foreign and domestic non-governmental organization (NGO) employees for allegedly promoting democracy in Egypt without the appropriate documentation. These employees were also alleged to have received funds from abroad in direct violation of Egyptian laws. The convicted employees included at least 16 Americans (15 were convicted in absentia), Europeans, Egyptians and other Arabs.

The court’s orders included closure of the NGOs, fines and prison sentences for the individual employees with ranges of one to five years. The following U.S.-based NGOs were affected by the court’s orders: International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, International Center for Journalists and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Needless to say, the NGOs were outraged by the court’s decision since the court’s decision indicated that the NGOs funded political parties, sought specific electoral outcomes, and/or aligned themselves with specific political parties and candidates. Each of the affected NGOs had indicated they plan to appeal the Egyptian court’s decision.

This is currently a hot button issue in Egypt. For example, according to the Jurist, current president Morsi reportedly had a bill sent to the Egypt’s interim parliament effectively regulating NGOs. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies criticized the bill alleging it restricts the financial autonomy of NGOs and civic associations.

The U.S. has criticized the court’s decision as “incompatible” with democratic transition in Egypt.

Click here for a link to the Jurist press release.

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