In its ongoing crackdown on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Ministry of Social Solidarity shut down another 10 organizations on Tuesday. The ministry also moved to dissolve the administrative boards of another 29 NGOs, while reportedly “reconstituting” the board of one other organization.
These decisions are reported to have raised the total number of NGOs shuttered this year to well over 400.
The Reuters affiliate Aswat Masriya reported that “no less than 450” NGOs have been shut down over the past few months.
According to a statement on the ministry’s official webpage, Minister Ghada Waly is said to have issued a decree dissolving these 10 NGOs with the objective of “banning the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities and confiscating property belonging to their associations.”
None of the names of these 10 shuttered NGOs has been disclosed, nor have the names of the 29 other NGOs which have had their boards dissolved been revelead either.
Such dissolutions have been legally and judicially enforced in light of a Cabinet decree issued on December 25, 2013, which officially classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Waly argued that her dissolution of hundreds of NGOs across the country is “pursuant to verdicts issued by the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters” as well as the decisions of the state-appointed committee tasked with overseeing the Brotherhood’s finances and assets.
According to the ministry’s statement, these 10 most recently dissolved NGOs were located in the Nile Delta, with nine based in the Daqahlia governorate and one based in Beheira.
As for the 29 NGOs which had their administrative boards dissolved, 28 of these are reported to have been operating in the central governorate of Minya, while the remaining organization was based in Cairo. As for the NGO which had its administrative board reconstituted, it is reportedly located in the southern governorate of Qena.
Beyond Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated associations, the Ministry of Social Solidarity has announced that it is shutting down NGOs which remain inactive, do not convene for general assembly meetings, or are not fulfilling the functions for which they were formally established.
Officials from the Ministry of Social Solidarity have repeatedly justified such closures by claiming they are not cracking down on NGOs or other civil society groups, but rather attempting to end the ambiguous legal status of certain organizations and halt financial violations of the law.
However, since the beginning of this year, the ministry’s newly imposed restrictions on the foreign funding of NGOs has forced several local human rights organization to slash their workforces, cut their employees’ salaries, decrease the number of their publications, and/or relocate to other countries.
These new restrictions on NGO rights appear to run against the provisions of Egypt’s Constitutional Article 75, which stipulates that “citizens have the right to establish associations and non-governmental organizations on a democratic basis, and these shall be deemed legal entities upon notification.”
This article also stipulates that “such institutions shall operate freely, and administrative authorities may not intervene in their affairs, nor dissolve them or their board of directors or trustees without a court order.”