Take Action for El Nadeem Center
On 17 February 2016, El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture was presented with an order by Azbakeyya district authorities for the closure of the Centre for “breaching licence conditions”.
The Cairo-based El Nadeem Centre is an independent Egyptian NGO founded in 1993 and dedicated to combating torture and providing support for its victims. The Centre provides medical care for victims of torture, takes their cases before various bodies and issues monthly summary reports on instances of torture, death and medical negligence in police custody in Egypt. The NGO also runs a program addressing violence against women which provides counseling along with two 24 hour hot-lines, and has worked to provide assistance for refugees.
On 17 February 2016, officials from the Azbakeyya district authorities ordered the employees of Al Nadeem to leave the premises of their office in Cairo, on the basis of an order from the Director of the Ministry of Health's Free Treatment Directorate declaring the closure of the Centre. The administrative closure order (35/2016) was based on a decision by the Ministry of Health signed on the 8 February 2016 “for breaching licence conditions”, and stamped by the Cairo district authorities on 15 February 2016.
A lawyer for El Nadeem Centre, who was at the office when the order for closure was presented, convinced the delegation from the Azbakeyya district authorities to postpone the implementation of the order pending a visit to the Ministry of Health to allow for a discussion on the underlying reasons for the order. On the following day, the Centre sent an official letter to the Minister of Health outlining their concerns, including the absence of a previous inspection of the Centre in accordance with Article 11 of Law 51 of 1981, the absence of previous notification of any irregularities before the receipt of the closure order, as well as the absence of a notification concerning its administrative closure which would have enabled the Centre to lodge an appeal. On 20 February 2016, a lawsuit was filed by the lawyer of the Centre at the Administrative Court of First Instance aiming at suspending the implementation of the administrative order.
Earlier in February 2016, an inspection of El Nadeem Centre was carried out by a Ministry of Health official without any official papers or an inspection warrant, following an order from the Ministry of Health. No breaches of the Centre's licence were reported subsequent to this inspection.
Several NGOs and associations, including the Syndicate of Doctors in Egypt, have criticised the closure order and expressed their solidarity with Al Nadeem Centre.
I express serious concern about the order for the closure of Al Nadeem Centre made by the Ministry of Health, as I believe it to be solely related to the Centre's legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.
I urge the authorities in Egypt to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally retract the order for the closure of Al Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.