The decision to close Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence came directly from the Cabinet not just the Health Ministry, the center announced in a press conference on Sunday.
The state justified the decision by claiming the center’s clinic issues reports “condemning police violations against terrorist groups,” said Suzanne Fayyad, a doctor at Al-Nadeem.
Al-Nadeem is a non-profit NGO, founded in 1993 in central Cairo, that provides psychological counseling, legal support and other forms of assistance to torture victims.
On Wednesday, two police officers and an architect presented Al-Nadeem with a closure order. The center’s lawyer, Taher Abu Nasr, negotiated with the officers and asked them to postpone the execution of the order until the center’s members visited the Health Ministry on Sunday.
During their visit, Fayyad and the center’s director, Aida Seif al-Dawla, were told the decision comes from “the highest authority which encompasses all the other ministries,” Seif al-Dawla said.
Earlier reports suggested the closure was ordered by the Health Ministry due to licensing violations. “Today, the ministry told us we have no such violations,” Seif al-Dawla said.
The clinic is a place for rehabilitation, licensed by the Doctors Syndicate and the Health Ministry, Fayyad explained, explaining that reports are issued by the center.
Seif al-Dawla maintains the closure of the center is a political decision. She suggests Al-Nadeem was targeted for its work on torture, repression and the general absence of law. “We now know it isn’t a violation we can stop doing,” she said.
The center filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court for Urgent Matters on Saturday against the Health Ministry, the Cairo governor and the head of the Health Affairs Administration.
Al-Nadeem’s staff are adamant about continuing their work, continuing to treat people and issuing reports on torture. “We will be at the center every day during working hours until they come and close it down,” Seif al-Dawla said. “As long as they keep torturing, the reports will continue to be issued. The only way those reports are not issued, is if they stop torture practices.” As long as there are torture victims, she continued, “we will find a way to rehabilitate them however we can.”
Doctors warned that their patients are the ones who will ultimately pay the price for the closure if they discontinue their treatment. “What if we also have patients suffering from PTSD [Post-traumatic Stress Disorder]? If they see a police raid, they may relapse,” Seif al-Dawla explained.
“Ideas don’t have licenses,” Magda Aly from the center said defiantly. “Even if the center is shut down, efforts to combat torture will never cease.”