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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Egypt closes only center for treatment and documentation of torture

Egyptian officials ordered the El Nadeem center closed for breaching unspecified health ministry regulations. El Nadeem is the last center remaining in Egypt that documents and treats alleged torture victims.

Aida Seif Al-Dawia, the director of the Cairo-based center claimed the closure order was politically motivated. Rights groups have been critical of Egypt's crackdown on dissent. Recently, there has been a surge of allegations of torture by officials. The El Nadeem center has been operating since 1993. It provides support and counseling for victims of torture.
The group has been given until Monday to close. The director has vowed to defy the order and said the center will continue its work unless the staff were arrested. Amnesty International said the closing of the center was "an extension of the ongoing crackdown on human rights activists in Egypt." The group noted the center was a lifeline for hundreds of torture victims and for families of people subject to enforced disappearances. Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty for the Middle East and North Africa said: “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.”
Oria Guerin of the BBC said the closure comes when enforced disappearances are rising, as are allegations of torture by police and intelligence officers. Two weeks ago, the mutilated corpse of an Italian student, Guilio Regini, was found by a roadside following allegations he had been kidnapped by security services. The security services have denied the allegations. Ever since the overthrow of the elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, there have been numerous human rights violations by the new Egyptian President Abduul al-Sisi. Sisi was army chief when he led a coup against Morsi after large demonstrations against him. The Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organization by the military-backed government. Since then, there have been several mass trials with hundreds sentenced to death and demonstrations were broken up with hundreds of protesters being killed. Western countries continue to support Egypt and provide military assistance, especially the United States. Al-Sisi is a strong supporter of Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army(LNA) in neighboring Libya. The UN envoy in Libya, Martin Kobler, the head of the Presidency Council of the GNA, Faiez Serraj, and Haftar himself have met with al-Sisi, showing that he is a key played in events in Libya.
Director, al-Dawia said two policemen came to the center on Wednesday with an order from the Health Ministry to close the center. She said: “The decision did not give any reasons. We managed to persuade them to postpone the closure until we went to the Health Ministry next Monday to understand the reasons, Unless they arrest us all, we will continue in our work as long as we remain out of prison. It would be stupid if they shut down the center because we provide a service that no one else provides to the underprivileged.”
spokesperson from the Ministry of Health claimed that the center engaged in "activities other than the activity allowed in its permit" but did not say what they were.The UN Human Rights Council has many times expressed concern of the methods used by Egyptian security forces and their killing of anti-government protesters.
Egypt has been closing down more and more NGO organizations and their facilities. Critics say the moves have rolled back the freedoms won after the government of Hosni Mubarak was overthrown during the Arab Spring in 2011. In spite of evidence to the contrary Egyptian authorities simply deny that they round up people and detain them in secret detention centers where they are subject to torture. The closure of the Nadeem center is just another move to prevent any evidence against the government and opposition to their methods.


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