A trial session on freezing the funds of rights activists on accusations of receiving foreign funding. ASWATMASRIYA/Mohamed al-Raai
CAIRO, Apr 20 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's foreign ministry said Wednesday it rejects a U.N. statement regarding the foreign funding case for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) proceedings, a case which brought on heavy criticism of the human rights' situation in the country.
The spokesman of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said on Tuesday in a statement that the secretary general is following closely judicial proceedings in Egypt against a number of civil society organisations and human rights defenders.
It also highlighted the importance of civil society organisations and their role in "ensuring that states meet developmental, social and civic objectives and obligations."
Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for human rights defenders, civil society in general and media "to work without undue restrictions."
In response, Egypt's foreign ministry rejected any remarks "that aim to interfere in the work of the Egyptian judiciary, particularly when such statements are released hours prior to the date of a court session."
However, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abo Zeid said that though the UN statements highlight elements that the Egyptian government adheres to in accordance with the constitution, it is "unacceptable" for a statement to imply that the defendants in the case"will not be able to benefit from all due process and fair trial standards."
Egypt decided in March to reopen the foreign funding case which dates back to 2011. The case accused several local NGOs of receiving foreign funds illegally. It later on simply came to be known as the NGO trial, in which 43 Egyptians and foreigners were convicted in 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed "deep concern" over the reopening of the case. Kerry said in a statement days after the reopening of the case that "this decision comes against a wider backdrop of arrests and intimidation of political opposition, journalists, civil society activists and cultural figures."
Local and International rights organisations criticized the reopening of the case as well and considered it an "escalating assault on Egyptian civil society," 17 Egypt-based rights groups said in a statement in March.
Amnesty International urged the Egyptian government to "end the onslaught" on human rights defenders.