The new headquarter of Egyptian National Council for Human rights in New Cairo (Photo: NCHR)
In an official statement on Thursday, the NCHR said the decision by the Cabinet “reaffirms the authorities’ positive interaction with the council’s calls and the state’s greater openness on enhancing the role of NGOs and contributions in community service and issues of reforms and development.”
In 2021, the Cabinet issued regulations granting NGOs in Egypt a year to comply with the new NGO Law 149/2019. However, the Cabinet decided on Wednesday to extend the grace period for another year starting 12 January; thereby concluding on 12 January 2023.
In a statement, the Cabinet said the extension aims to allow a sufficient period of time to reconcile the conditions of the NGOs that were unable to hold their extraordinary general assembly due to the coronavirus-related precautionary measures, or to familiarise themselves with the electronic system dedicated to legalising and regulating their status, and to accommodate all the organisational procedures that must be met.
The extension comes one week after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared during the closing ceremony of the World Youth Forum as the ‘Year of Civil Society’ in Egypt.
Egypt’s parliament passed an amended NGOs law in July 2019 after the previous version of the law, which was issued in 2017, was criticised for imposing steep restrictions on the work of tens of thousands of NGOs in the country. The law was then ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in January 2020.
The NCHR said that the Cabinet’s decision gives a chance to over 20,000 NGOs and civil society organisations to legalise their status, adding that only 31,000 NGOs from 54,000 were able to settle their legalities before the deadline.
Some governorates only saw 35 percent of their operating NGOs able to legalise their status, it added.
“The decision is in line with the principles of freedom of organisation and bolstering community-based action in accordance with the rule of law and international accords for human rights,” the NCHR concluded.