Egypt has never been a welcoming place for civil society groups, but the past several years have seen an unrelenting crackdown on non-governmental organizations. It began with the infamous December 2011 raids on foreign democracy-building organizations and has endured through successive regimes. And yesterday, Egypt once again upped the ante.
Dr. Nancy Okail is the Executive Director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP). She brings more than 15 years of experience promoting democracy and development in the Middle East and North Africa region to this role. Prior to joining TIMEP, Dr. Okail was the director of Freedom House’s Egypt program. She has also worked with the Egyptian government as a senior evaluation officer of foreign aid and has managed programs for Egyptian pro-democracy organizations that challenged the Mubarak regime. She was also one of the defendants convicted and sentenced to prison in the widely publicized case of 43 non-governmental organization workers charged with using foreign funds to foment unrest in Egypt. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sussex in the U.K. where her dissertation examined the power relations of foreign aid.
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Despite continued reports of torture, harrowing tales of abuse in detention, and haunting anecdotes of forced disappearances, Egyptian authorities seem wholly unwilling to contend with the human rights violations that have long plagued the country’s security sector. Rather, authorities seem insistent to instead embark upon yet another wave of crackdown against civil society, taking measures to constrain the activities of the players who document, report, advocate, and litigate within the country’s anti-torture scene and even more broadly, the entire human rights movement.