Egypt plans to amend a law that activists say essentially bars non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from carrying out their work in the country.
Law 70 of 2017 for Regulating the Work of Associations and Other Institutions Working in the Field of Civil Work gives Egypt's intelligence and security services strict control over the activities of NGOs, especially groups that receive foreign funding. Those that violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000). The law also gives the government the power to decide who can establish an NGO and for what purpose, and obliges groups to stick to the "state's development plan," severely restricting the work they can do in areas the government does not consider a priority. It also bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in political activities or anything the government decides will harm national security, public order, public morals or public health - a means, say rights groups, to stifle dissent.
The law has been the target of strong criticism from the United Nations and international watchdogs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW).