Egypt: Administrative closure of El Nadeem Center
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the administrative closure by the police of El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation for Victims of Violence and Torture (“El Nadeem Center”),based in Cairo.
According to the information received, on February 9, 2017, at around 11 a.m., fifteen police officers in civilian clothes closed and sealed with tape and red wax the doors of the three flats occupied by El Nadeem. At the time, the premises were vacant as the center is closed on Thursdays and Fridays.
The janitor, who was the only person present on the premises when the police’s operation began, tried to oppose the closure and was threatened of arrest by the police. Alerted by phone about the operation, Ms. Aida Seif El-Dawla, Director and one of the founders of El Nadeem Center, immediately arrived on the premises. She was denied any explanations on the situation, and also threatened of arrest if she kept asking questions. The janitor, accompanied by El Nadeem Centre’s lawyer Mr. Taher Abulnasr, was brought to the Azbakeya police station.
The Observatory fears that the police officers were implementing the “administrative closing order” issued on February 17, 2016 by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to shut down the center for allegedly “breaching license conditions” (see background information). It has to be recalled that on that occasion the closing order only mentioned El Nadeem Center clinic, which occupies only one of the three flats that were sealed this morning.
At the time of publication of this appeal El Nadeem Centre’s lawyers, Mr. Taher Abulnasr and Ms. Maha Yucef are present at the Azbakeya prosecution office to file a complaint against the illegal closure of the two company flats, which are not included in the MoH closing order of February 2016, but have been prevented from doing so and instead being questioned.
The Observatory recalls that in February 2016 El Nadeem Center filed a complaint before the administrative court to challenge the February 17, 2016 administrative closing order. Since then, the judicial process has been ongoing and the final court decision was expected to be made public in February 2017. Therefore, the police did not wait for the court ruling regarding the closure of the clinic, and in addition closed two additional flats, outside the mandate of the MoH.
The Observatory recalls that this year has seen an unprecedented harassment against El Nadeem Center, with three closure attempts in less than a year, an attempt to freeze the center’s assets, as well as a travel ban issued against Ms. Aida Seif El-Dawla.
The harassment campaign against the anti-torture movement in Egypt comes at a time of rising government pressure on independent human rights groups in Egypt, in the context of a dramatic deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, marked namely by a grave crackdown on civil society and a notable increase in cases of torture, deaths in detention and enforced disappearances.
The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the closure order against El Nadeem Center as well as the travel ban against Ms. Aida Seif El-Dawla.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
Immediately and unconditionally lift the closure order against El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, and unseal its premises to allow its staff to carry out their legitimate human rights activities;
Immediately and unconditionally lift the travel ban against Ms. Aida Seif al-Dawla;
Put an end to all forms of harassment against El Nadeem Center, as well as against all human rights organisations and defenders in Egypt;
Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Articles 1, 5(b) and 12.2;
Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Egypt.
Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
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