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18th January 2017, 10:20:47 UTC

Egyptian authorities continue a crackdown on human rights defenders to stop them doing their valuable human rights work.

On 9 February, the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence was raided by police and shut down. The organisation offers crucial support to survivors of torture and violence.

Over the past year, judges have been overseeing a criminal investigation into the activities and funding of Egyptian human rights organisations, known as Case 173 of 2011. HRDs may face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of LE500,000 (US$ 27,528), if convicted of the charge of receiving foreign funding to damage Egypt’s “national interests”, “peace”, “unity” or “security”.

The authorities have used a range of tactics to disrupt the activities of HRDs, including arbitrary arrests, interrogations, arbitrary travel bans and asset freezes.

Human rights defender Azza Soliman, Nazra for Feminist Studies director, Mozn Hassan, and both Mohamed Zaree and Atef Hafez of the Arab Penal Reform Organization have been targeted

Since early 2016, at least 22 NGO workers, including directors, have been summoned for interrogation; 18 human rights activists and defenders have been barred from travelling; and asset freezes have been imposed against 7 NGOs and 10 individuals.

On 29 November 2016, Parliament approved a new draft law, replacing the existing associations law, which would severely restrict the work of NGOs. The bill is pending ratification by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. If signed into law, it would force NGOs to seek official approval to conduct field research, publish their findings and seek funding.
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