Fact Sheet: Freedom House in Egypt

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By
Sarah Trister

The offices of Freedom House, along with those of 10 other organizations, were raided and closed by Egyptian police on December 29th. Since then, the assault on Egyptian civil society has intensified, and pressure on U.S. democracy organizations in Egypt has grown. In an attempt to justify its actions, the Egyptian government has engaged in an aggressive campaign of misinformation about what is taking place. In response, we offer the following fact sheet:

  • As part of a broad campaign against free civil society in the country, the Egyptian government last December 29 raided the offices of three U.S.-based organizations whose activities in Egypt are funded by the U.S. government— Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute.   Each of these groups had shared extensive information about their activities with Egyptian authorities and had attempted to undergo the registration process.  The offices of seven other organizations were also raided.

  • “Investigations” are reportedly underway into more than 400 civil society organizations within Egypt, including Freedom House, IRI, and NDI.  As a part of these “investigations,” staff from Freedom House have been subject to hours of interrogations, with clearly political motivations forming the basis of the allegations.

  • Egyptian authorities have blocked American staff who work for NDI and IRI in Egypt from leaving the country.

  • Freedom House supports activities that encourage civic engagement, free expression, free association, and free assembly—freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.

  • Freedom House and similar organizations work around the world on a variety of democracy, election, and human rights issues.  Work can be done from local field offices, or through the Washington, D.C. office.  When working in a foreign country, Freedom House operates in a transparent manner with the safety of partners and staff foremost in mind.

  • Freedom House does not choose sides.  We do not get involved in any country's politics or partisan competitions and we don't push for specific political outcomes.  Participation in Freedom House activities is open and available to people of all political persuasions, faiths, and ideologies who want to work in support of human rights and an open political process.

  • The United States does not distinguish between registered and unregistered organizations when making democracy and human rights assistance programming decisions.  Many countries, including Egypt, utilize registration as a way to stymie and control civil society organizations, particularly those that work on democracy, governance, and human rights.

  • In order for a foreign group to legally operate within the United States, it must simply fill out the proper tax forms.  Civil society organizations within the United States do not have to report their activities to or receive approval from the United States government.

  • Almost $300 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars goes directly to the Egyptian government annually for economic and social assistance, including some democracy and human rights funding.  The ministry that receives this funding, the Ministry for Planning and International Cooperation, is headed by a Mubarak holdover who has been directing the assault against civil society.

  • Per the FY 2012 State and Foreign Operations Bill, before the Administration can release the $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt, it must certify that the government of Egypt is “supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law.”  At this point, it is clear these conditions are not being met.

Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.

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