Egypt has ordered that its last remaining center used for documenting the treatment of alleged torture victims be shut down. It made the move on the explanation that the prominent center named El Nadim had breached health ministry regulations which it did not specify.
El Nadim Center for Management and Rehabilitation of victims of violence is an independent Egyptian NGO. It was established in August 1993 as a civil not-for-profit company. It was initially restricted to the provision of psychological rehabilitation to victims of torture and the provision of medicolegal reports where necessary. They however began to include the publishing, campaigning and mobilization of different societal sectors against the practice of torture to their ongoing agenda as they got older. Right now they document allegations of torture, death and medical negligence inside police stations and prisons.
The centers director, Aida Seif al-Dawla believes that the move is politically motivated and reveals that they had been given until Monday to close down. She said the group has vowed to defy the order, telling BBC; “Unless they arrest us all, we will continue to work, as long as we remain out of prison,”. Human rights groups have accused Egypt’s security forces of torturing detainees and detaining suspected activists or militant Islamists without reporting their arrests, all allegations rejected by the government.
Amnesty International also believes that the move is one in a long line of crack downs against human right activism in Egypt. Said Boumedouha, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and north Africa, has called on Egypt to “freeze the order to close the centre and provide it with a clear explanation of the reasons behind the order”. He insists that the center has to have an opportunity to defend the order before a court. Praising the efforts of the group over the years for the work they do, he also said; “This looks to us like a barefaced attempt to shut down an organisation which has been a bastion for human rights and a thorn in the side of the authorities for more than 20 years.”