State threatens Egyptian NGO that supports torture victims

The Egyptian government has targeted one of the country’s most important NGOs – the El Nadeem Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

Founded in 1993, El Nadeem has supported thousands of victims of torture and abuse at the hands of Egypt’s police and security agencies. It has also provided advice and support for many victims of domestic violence.

On 17 February police visited the offices of El Nadeem in central Cairo with an order to close the centre apparently issued by a body affiliated to Egypt’s Health Ministry. This cited unspecified violations of the centre’s licence to operate.

Al-Nadeem’s director, Dr Seif al-Dawla, said: “If what they want to say is that we are a human rights organization, if this is their accusation, let them say it clearly – that this is why they are closing us.”

Amnesty International condemned the move against El Nadeem. It said that the centre gives a lifeline to victims of torture and families of people subject to enforced disappearance.

In a statement, the centre said it believes El Nadeem is being targeted as part of an ongoing security campaign: “We believe that this attempt at closing the center is part of the security policy”. Aida Seif al-Dawla said the group had been given until Monday to close but had vowed to defy the order. “Unless they arrest us all, we will continue to work,” she told the BBC.

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