The board of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has decided to apply for registration under the existing 2002 NGO law, the organization said in a statement on Sunday.
The human rights organization was registered previously as a limited company.
EIPR will comply with the government’s July ultimatum to NGOs, which required organizations to register by November 10 — an extension of 30 working days from the original September 28 deadline. The decision has been made by board members and staff in order to continue work and confront what they term a “flawed law,” urging the government to put an end to the “current climate of suspicion” against human rights groups in Egypt.
The existing law is unconstitutional, according to many human rights specialists. EIPR voiced concerns that it gives the state full power over NGOs and their funding, in addition to the ability to hire board members and dissolve them with no court order, their statement added.
The board affirmed its intention to continue to defend human rights and interfere wherever there is injustice.
Human rights organizations have been under increased suspicion since the January 25 uprising, with some accused of spying, and there has been a backlash in local media against the efforts of certain groups.
Since the government’s ultimatum in July, EIPR has considered various options, one of which was to shut down in protest, explained Associate Director at EIPR Gasser Abdel Razeq. “However, it was not kept on the table for long and the reason is clear: A human rights organization cannot shut down during possibly one of the worst human rights situations in the history of the country,” added Abdel Razeq.
EIPR will continue its work until the board of trustees submits the files, which it plans to do within the coming two weeks, explained Abdel Razeq.
The legal status of organizations is supposed to be determined within 60 days from the date of notification, according to the law. Abdel Razeq stated that, if everything goes smoothly, within 60 days EIPR’s situation would be legal. “If the government opposes us, the process can take months and even years and this is when we will go to court,” he added.
“Optimism is not an option; we rely on presenting an application that meets the requirements of the law,” he explained, adding that if EIPR’s papers are rejected, it would be a political decision.
EIPR’s Executive Director, Khaled Mansour, explained to Mada Masr that the human rights organization has been fighting the current law for the last 12 years. However, he said the atmosphere recently has become more hostile towards civil society, which has pushed EIPR to “accept the challenge.”
“We are trying to challenge the government in good faith and unveil its empty allegations,” said Mansour, who explained they have decided to take a different approach this time, after requests to meet with the minister of social solidarity and prime minister were unfruitful.
A new NGO draft law, proposed in July, permits authorities to shut down any Egyptian independent group, pending a court order, or refuse to license new groups on vague grounds of “harming national unity.”