Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has signed into law a contentious new bill to regulate non-governmental organisations, making it harder for charities to operate.

The measure restricts NGO activity to developmental and social work and introduces jail terms of up to five years for non-compliance.

Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to $16,500 to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, a human rights lawyer said.

“The law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organisations,” Gamal Eid said.

No organisation can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state. Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000).

The law –  which was criticised by the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch – requires for a “national authority” including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organisations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organisations.