UN expert warns of growing curbs by Egypt on civil society

A United Nations human rights expert has criticized the Egyptian authorities' crackdown on civil society, saying it is placing growing restrictions on non-government organizations and is harassing rights defenders.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, on Tuesday called on Egypt to meet its international legal obligations after the country introduced a restrictive new NGO law and froze the assets of prominent human rights activists.

He says "the government seems to be systematically attacking civil society in an effort to silence its voice."

In September, an Egyptian court upheld a decision to freeze the assets of five prominent human rights defenders and three NGOs. It was the latest blow to a once-vibrant activist community that has been largely silenced by the government crackdown.