The Ministry of Health issued a statement Wednesday to clarify the sudden closure of El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and that the organisation changed the nature of its from being a clinic treating psychological and nervous problems to being a rehabilitation centre for victims of torture without having informed the ministry of this change.
“The license granted to El Nadeem Centre was as a psychological and nervous disease clinic, not rehabilitation centre for torture victims,” the statement by ministry spokesman Khalid Megahed read.
The statement asserted El Nadeem Centre has made two violations; first by changing its activity without asking the ministry to modify its license, which a legal violation according Article 13 from law no. 153 issued in 2004; it also changed its name from clinic to a centre, which also requires a change in the nature of license.
The ministry had issued several warnings to El Nadeem Centre but the deadline passed without any interaction from El Nadeem Centre and as a result, the Ministry of Health issued the decision for its closure, Megahed said.
“If El Nadeem Center wishes to register itself as a human rights organisation, it has the right to do this by following legal procedures,” the statement read. El Nadeem Center was closed in 2004 for a month after a patrol from the Ministry of Health to monitor the violations of the health institution.
Since the decision to close El Nadeem was announced, a wave of solidarity has come from human rights organisations regionally and globally. The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), of which El Nadeem is a member, has announced its “firm solidarity” with the centre along with its 150 rehabilitation centres worldwide.
The council condemned the decision and called on the Egyptian government to cease obstruction of the centre’s valuable work, criticising what it calls “a systematic effort by Egyptian authorities to crack down on rights and freedoms” in a statement issued Saturday on its website.
A police delegation sent by local authorities entered the centre’s premises in central Cairo and presented an order of administrative closure “for breaching license conditions”; no explanation was provided for this decision. The lawyer representing El Nadeem Centre convinced the authorities to postpone the execution of the order until 22 February.
The statement asserted the decision was discussed with the ministry and a delegation from El Nadeem, who requested the decision be postponed; they were informed that this decision is final.
El Nadeem Centre issued a statement on 17 February on its Facebook page, commenting on the ministry’s decision and alleging that the real reason for the closure is that the centre represents a key source of information on the issues of torture, deaths in detention, and impunity for these crimes in Egypt.
“This move clearly represents another step in the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Egypt,” the statement read.