U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday Egypt’s trial of representatives for non-government organizations was politically motivated and incompatible with its transition to democracy.
Kerry issued the tough statement after a criminal court in Cairo convicted 43 NGO workers on charges of illegally using foreign funding to foment civil unrest.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the guilty verdicts and sentences, including the suspended sentences, handed down by an Egyptian court against 43 NGO representatives in what was a politically-motivated trial,” Kerry said. “This decision runs contrary to the universal principle of freedom of association and is incompatible with the transition to democracy.”
The Egyptian court ordered the closure of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the case, including the U.S.-based International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Freedom House.
Kerry said the closure order on the NGO offices and the seizure of their assets “contradicts the Government of Egypt’s commitments to support the role of civil society.” He urged President Mohamed Morsi’s government to “work with civic groups as they respond to the Egyptian people’s aspirations for democracy as guaranteed in Egypt’s new constitution.”
The U.S. position as explained in Kerry’s statement argued that international NGOs play a legitimate role in any democracy and are critical to advancing freedoms, supporting universal human rights, giving voice to citizens’ views, and acting as appropriate checks on the government.
The U.S.-based groups were training Egyptians in advocacy, voter education and election monitoring.