An interview with Mozynah Nofal

Mozynah is currently participating in CIVICUSs UN learning Exchange program for citizens of an African country. She is 22 years old, from Egypt and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialisation in Development from Carleton University in Canada. 

CIVICUS Interview Regarding Egypt

1. What are your experiences of civil society interaction with Egypt’s interim government?

My experiences have been extremely disheartening.  One of the first efforts to organise civil society after the ousting of President Morsi on 3 July 2013, was in Rabaa Square in Cairo and in other squares across Egypt. The sit-ins in these squares were in response to the military’s removal of Egypt’s first democratically elected President. These efforts ended in the bloody massacre by the security and army forces of protesters at the Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda sit-ins on 14 August 2013, killing an estimated 1000 people and which to this day have not been properly investigated. The months that followed the massacre showed a similarly heavy handed response from the interim government and the military against Morsi supporters, and the attitude of intolerance on behalf of government and government supporters towards the opposition has been evident in every aspect of civil life. The Muslim Brotherhood has now been banned and recently labelled a terrorist group. Most of its leaders have been imprisoned and their funds now managed by a commission established by the judiciary. Continue reading

Protecting civic space against #NGOMuzzle laws in Kenya

By Irũngũ Houghton and Stephanie Muchai[1] 

 “We said that Kenyans had enacted the best and most progressive Constitution in the world. The struggle for this Constitution was by the civil society….”Hon. Fatuma Ali, MP

“Regulation and accountability is important but let us … not take away the freedom and space within which the public benefit organisations act and operate.”

Hon. Oyugi, MP

“Alongside many of my colleagues here were the alumni of the civil society at one time…as we are trying to streamline those that are very wayward, we may end up suffocating the NGOs…”

Hon. Kabando wa Kabando, MP

SUMMARY

This article captures the background and events of November 2013 in Kenya. A set of thirteen amendments to the Public Benefits Organisations Act 2013 were unexpectedly brought to the National Assembly. If they had passed, they would have fundamentally affected civic space, democracy and development. It offers lessons and reflections on the state of governance and civil society in Kenya and the challenges of protecting and advancing fundamental freedoms within a new constitutional order.

BACKGROUND         

Post independent governments in Kenya systemically violated human rights and heavily curtailed freedoms of assembly, association and expression in particular. Members of civil society were systemically harassed, intimidated, tortured and killed for attempting to exercise these rights and pierce secrecy, corruption and nepotism veils.[2] Civil society organisations who attempted to research, advocate or support communities to advocate in the public interest were attacked, banned or de-registered by state agents on trumped up charges. Continue reading