Egypt’s State Council Commissioner Authority (SCCA) recommended the revoking of a prior administrative order to close Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, in a report on Saturday.
The center was not given any prior notice of the closure order, nor time to rectify any legal violations, the SCCA explained. It was never inspected and the alleged violations were not significant enough to warrant its closure, the report added.
An administrative court adjourned a session to examine a legal challenge filed by Al-Nadeem Center to 19 April, pending the SCCA’s report.
Al-Nadeem logged the case on March 20, 2016, after a closure order was issued by the Health Ministry in February 2016, but court hearings were postponed five times, the center’s lawyer Taher Abul Nasr explained.
“In case the verdict is in our favor, we will take all legal procedures necessary to reopen the center, after notifying the police station and municipality officials,” said Abul Nasr.
A sizeable police force was sent to Al-Nadeem’s headquarters in downtown Cairo on February 9, 2017 to forcibly close it, according to the center’s co-founder Aida Seif al-Dawla. There was a prior attempt to close the center on February 17, 2016, when the department for private healthcare at the Health Ministry issued an administrative order.
The closure represents “an organized attack by the security apparatus against rights and freedoms in Egypt,” Seif al-Dawla told Mada Masr on February 2016, with Al-Nadeem staff suggesting it was the result of a political order from the Cabinet against the center’s work with torture victims and victims of violence, during a press conference a few days later.
Several Health Ministry officials asserted the decision was related to licensing violations, but this was never explained further.
Egypt’s legislation regulating the work of medical establishments stipulates that any closure decisions have to be based on clear reasons and the organization or center must be given prior notification of these reasons and a period of time in which to rectify any alleged violations after a formal inspection is conducted.
Egyptian authorities issued a travel ban against Seif al-Dawla in November last year. Al-Nadeem’s bank account was frozen in the same month, following a directive from the Central Bank of Egypt, but the freeze was lifted a few days later.
The center has provided thousands of victims of violence with psychological and legal support and care since its founding in 1993, as well as documented and researched torture practices and rehabilitation methods in Egypt.