CAIRO, Egypt — Two US senators are slamming a law recently passed by Egypt’s president as “draconian” for imposing heavy restrictions and effectively banning the work of non-governmental organizations, the latest in a series of measures taken to crack down on dissent in the country.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham urged President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in a statement Wednesday to bring the law on NGOs in line with international standards.
“Congress should strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on US assistance for Egypt,” they said in a statement.
Amnesty International said the law is a “catastrophic blow” and could be a “death sentence” for human rights groups in Egypt.
President Donald Trump met with Sissi in the White House in April but made no mention of Egypt’s human rights record.
Egyptian authorities have led a brutal crackdown on all forms of opposition, at times targeting human rights organizations directly, since then-army chief Sissi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Sissi approved the law on May 24 after parliament approved it in November last year.
Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 300,000 pounds to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, the lawyer said.
No organization can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state.
Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000).
It requires for a “national authority” including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations.