Monday, August 29, 2011

Hamas Continues to Target Activities of Gaza Based NGOs

CHALLAH @ Al Arabiya

A series of decisions taken by the interior minister in the Gaza government stirred controversy among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for what they regarded as a flagrant intervention in their affairs and a violation of the law that regulates their activities.

The ousted Hamas government in the Gaza Strip issued earlier this month a law that obliges NGO staffers to file a request with the interior ministry – with a two-week advance notice – whenever they want to travel abroad for a conference or workshop.

The government also requested that NGOs change their regulations in a manner that allows, according to those organizations, for more intervention on the interior ministry’s part and almost no independence for them. Those decisions are extremely dangerous, since they allow security officials to interfere in the affairs of civil organizations, said Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator of the Civil Organizations Network.

“The government is imposing several restrictions on the organizations and their employees which is in violation of Palestinian law,” he told Al Arabiya.

Shawa added that travel requests and modification of regulations are only the most recent in a series of decision that curb the freedom of those organizations.

“The ousted government’s cabinet announced earlier its approval of a proposal which requires that all civil organizations obtain permission from the interior ministry before starting any project that is funded by a donating body.”

These new decisions, Shawa explained, violate the NGO law passed in 2000 that stipulates that the relationship between the government and those organizations is based on cooperation and not security intervention.

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