Major NGO respose on draft law amendment in Bahrain



The Minister of Social Development, Dr Fatima Al Balooshi, announced at a Press conference this month that the ministry will be open to receive amendments on the new draft law on NGOs but only until October 25.



Al Janahi said that officials met some NGOs even after the date and discussed on certain clauses in the law. It was also announced during the meeting that the draft law will be posted on the ministry’s website.


But not everybody is happy with the handling of the entire issue by the ministry. Dr Wajiha Al Baharna, the President of the Women Association for Human Development, told the Bahrain Tribune: “We have read the draft law and feel that it is restricting us to perform our role rather than helping us.” The draft law has been at the centre of disputes between the ministry and the NGOs, particularly on the issues of independence of the organisations, fund allocations and membership. The 60-article draft law states that donations and financial aid worth BD10,000 from inside or outside the Kingdom cannot be accepted by the societies without the approval of the Ministry of Social Development.
When asked about the cap on donations, Balooshi had told the Tribune that, Bahrain has signed the international treaty on money laundering which has to be followed. Societies would be closely monitored during fund-raising activities and charity festivals as per the draft. They are also forbidden from joining international associations without the ministry’s approval.


Al Baharna described the move as “one step forward and two steps backwards.”
She said that for every function or workshop the consent from the ministry is required which results in delays because of bureaucracy.


“We are not paid for doing this job as this is voluntary service for the society. The draft law does not meet our requirement and has no appreciation for voluntary work,’ she said.


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