ALDE Press Release: Totally unacceptable that NGO workers in Egypt are sentenced to jail

Marietje
Today an Egyptian criminal court has sentenced 43 people to between one and five years in prison for working for unregistered NGOs in Egypt. Twenty-seven defendants, all of whom were tried in absentia, received five-year jail sentences. Of the defendants who attended the trial, 11 received one-year suspended sentences, and five received two-year sentences. They were referred to trial in December 2011 on charges of illegally obtaining foreign funds and failing to register their operations with the Egyptian government. The court also ordered the closure of four foreign NGOs operating in Egypt and for their funds to be confiscated. These are the US-based Freedom House, the International Democratic Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). Guy Verhofstadt, ALDE group leader: "It is totally unacceptable that Egypt, calling itself democratic now, is using a law from Mubarak to organize a crackdown on NGO's that are there to support democracy. First refusing to register these NGO's for many years and then jailing there employees because they work for a not registered NGO is a tactic from a dictatorship not a democratic government. Closing down NGO offices is closing down the revolution. This is again a reason for the EU to cut its funding to Egypt until it respects basic democratic rules." Edward McMillan-Scott (Lib Dems, UK): "Closing down NGOs that empower civil society is an attempt to silence everyone who wants to build a democratic society. This is the complete opposite of what the Egyptian revolution was about. The trial was politicized from the very beginning. It is clear that the so-called independence of the Egyptian judges is no more than a farce." Marietje Schaake (D66, Netherlands): "These 43 people stood on trial based on Mubarak's NGO law. This government is right now finalizing a new NGO law that is even worse. The EU must stand firm on its principles of democracy and human rights and stop aid to Egypt if this new NGO law is adopted. In the EU-Egypt Taskforce we set some conditions. If the EU wants to retain some credibility, it must show it means what it says."