Commenting on reports that an Egyptian criminal court has convicted local and foreign employees of international NGOs, Mr Burt said:
“I am concerned about the reports today that 43 Egyptian and foreign national NGO workers were given prison sentences for receiving foreign funds and operating in Egypt without permission from the authorities. The verdict signals an overly restrictive approach to how NGOs, including widely respected international NGOs, are able to carry out their work. We have raised our concerns with the Egyptian authorities.
“Civil society has a vital role to play in Egypt’s transition. We call on the authorities to create an environment that allows a vibrant civil society to flourish.
“This verdict comes at an important time for the NGO sector in Egypt. We continue to raise the draft Law on Associations, the NGO Law with the authorities. The draft law that is being considered by the Shoura Council still contains elements that could unnecessarily constrain the work of NGOs in Egypt. We call on the Egyptian government to ensure that the draft law is in line with international standards and Egypt’s obligations.”
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