After attempted closure, uncertain fate for NGO that aids torture victims

Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence was nearly shut down on Wednesday by an interagency task force, reportedly at the orders of the Health Ministry’s Department for Private Medical Treatment.

Established in 1993, Al-Nadeem is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization headquartered in central Cairo that provides counseling services, legal support and other forms of assistance to torture victims.

“An employee from the Health Ministry, a district engineer and two policemen [from the Azbakiya Police Station] came to shutter the center, but they did not specify the grounds on which the decision was made,” Mona Hamed, a member of Al-Nadeem, told Mada Masr. 

“We managed to convince them to refrain from closing the center until we contact the Private Treatment Department. They will come back on Monday to implement the ministry’s decision,” Hamed added.

Al-Nadeem’s director Aida Seif al-Dawla described the action to Mada Masr as “an organized attack by the security apparatus against rights and freedoms in Egypt.”

“We will pay a visit to the Ministry of Health next Sunday to demand an explanation and to stop the shuttering order. Members of the ministry visited the center three weeks ago and they made no comments concerning any violations,” Seif al-Dawla added.

Amnesty International released a statement Wednesday evening decrying the closure order, stating, “This looks to us like a barefaced attempt to shut down an organization which has been a bastion for human rights and a thorn in the side of the authorities for more than 20 years.”

In a joint press conference held last month by Al-Nadeem, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and other civil society organizations, the anti-torture NGO said it has documented at least 625 cases of torture inside Egyptian prisons.

Last December, the Townhouse and its Rawabet theater as well as a group of other non-profit art spaces in downtown Cairo were raided and shuttered without any reason given by the interagency teams that inspected them and confiscated personal belongings, including laptops, office documents and artwork.

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