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Syria Drafts NGO Law to Develop Sector Without Foreign Groups

Social affairs and labor minster says draft law only concerns civil society groups inside the country and not international organizations, pro-regime outlet writes
Syria Drafts NGO Law to Develop Sector Without Foreign Groups

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Rema Qadri revealed the a draft law to develop non-governmental work in the country was being prepared, saying that the plan aims to create an active and disciplined non-governmental sector.

In comments to Al-Watan, Qadri said: "The draft comes as a result of an effort within civil society, which is in need of several factors, including legislation, simplification of procedures, and greater organization of the way the ministry deals with this sector to create better productivity."

Qadri said that the draft law regarding the non-governmental sector relates to the streamlining of procedures to increase productivity and allow the ministry to play the role required of it in adjusting the rhythm of this sector.

The minster said that the draft would only concern civil society groups inside the country and not foreign groups, adding that there was no way to compare the draft NGO laws which were prepared two years ago.

Qadri said that the ministry had prepared two workshops around the draft law. The first was with beneficiaries and those involved in its implementation, and was a brainstorming workshop with civil society groups to get their opinions and listen to their proposals around the draft law.

The second workshop was with governmental agencies to find out the difficulties and shortcomings in the relationship between the public and private sectors. Another two workshops will be held soon, the first to discuss the draft at academic, intellectual and legal levels and the second to create a summary describing the aspects and entities through which the draft should be developed to be most fruitful.

Qadri added: "The priority to issue legislation appropriate for non-government work in Syria or non-governmental organizations here must confirm that the problem is not in the current legislative text but in ensuring its implementation on the ground."

The minister said that the current law had good aspects and that the ministry had worked for the past two years to reduce the difficulties resulting from its implementation through available procedural issues within the law, but that its normal practice was preventing proper practical application.

Regarding the work of foreign NGOs in Syria, Qadri said that the Foreign Ministry was the body that regulated their work, adding that the ministry had granted a number of powers to foreign groups to work on Syrian territory, and therefore the issue is not a matter of fear or lack of fear of foreign NGOs' work.

The previous NGO draft law had sparked major controversy among the government and civil society, especially in matters pertaining to the work of foreign NGOs on Syrian territory, which pushed the government to withdraw it from the parliament at the beginning of the second legislation of last year for review.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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