The IRCT is deeply concerned about the shutdown of its Egyptian member centre, El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, by the Egyptian authorities. This is the latest of many direct attacks by the Egyptian authorities on torture victims’ access to crucial rehabilitation services and El Nadeem’s freedom to speak up on their behalf.
Thurday morning, El Nadeem staff arrived at the centre to find that it had been sealed by police. According to the co-founder of the centre, Aida Seif el-Dawla, the building's doorman was taken into police custody, but was later released.
The closure is the latest in a string of actions taken by the Egyptian authorities to crack down on El Nadeem and punish it for providing support and treatment to victims of torture and trauma. A year ago, the authorities ordered El Nadeem staff to shut down operations without providing an explanation, and in November last year, Egypt’s central bank sent out an order to freeze the organisation’s bank account.
The IRCT calls on the Egyptian government to immediately stop its actions of harassment against El Nadeem and other human rights defenders and instead commit to allowing them to freely operate to defend human rights and democracy in Egypt.
“El Nadeem provides crucial psychological support to torture victims and is a credible public voice when the Egyptian authorities try to silence the victims. We know from our members around the world that torture inflicts terrible damage to individuals, families and societies. El Nadeem performs a crucial societal function in promoting human rights and democracy and it is high time that all of us who believe in human rights and democracy take a close look at Egypt,” says Victor Madrigal-Borloz, IRCT Secretary-General.
The Nadeem Center is a private, politically independent health clinic and as the IRCT has previously pointed out, the government’s actions are part of its crackdown on rights and freedoms. Since al-Sisi was elected to the presidency in June 2014, repression and shrinking of the public space has only increased, targeting the entire spectrum of human rights organisations, professional and labour associations, political activists, journalists and media.
Adding to this, reports of torture and ill-treatment and enforced disappearances in Egypt are frequent, with El Nadeem consistently recording high numbers of allegations of police torture. Yet, El Nadeem is the only centre in the country that provides rehabilitation to victims of torture. By closing the centre, torture victims in dire need of help are not able to receive the treatment they need.