Egypt attempts to shut down anti-torture center

Story highlights

  • Authorities serve order to close the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
  • The Cairo center, which provides medical services and counseling, vows to fight government's order

(CNN)A prominent Egyptian center that provide medical services and counseling to victims of torture and other violence said Thursday it will fight a government attempt to shut it down.

Police officers visited the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture in Cairo on Wednesday, and a city employee served Director Mona Hamed with a health ministry "order of closure ... for breaching license conditions," center representatives said in a Facebook post.
An attorney for the center, which was founded in 1993, was able to postpone the order going into effect until a meeting set for Sunday with health ministry officials, according to the Facebook post.
"El Nadim Center is not a place that can be waxed shut," the Facebook post said. "El Nadim will continue supporting the oppressed and fight against torture and violence. In that sense El Nadim will always remain open."
CNN attempts to reach the ministry were unsuccessful.
An official with Human Rights Watch criticized the health ministry's attempt.
"It's unconscionable for Egyptian authorities to shut down a clinic for torture victims, especially when Interior Ministry agents are committing rampant abuse of people in custody," Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division, said in a statement. "The Egyptian government should immediately revoke its closure of the Nadeem Center."
Human rights groups have grown more critical at the rising number of alleged torture cases and enforced disappearances by security forces. The government has denied the accusations.
In July 2014, Egypt's Social Solidarity Ministry ordered all nongovernmental organizations to register under a restrictive 2002 law on associations that would empower the government to shut down any group "virtually at will," according to Human Rights Watch. The ministry set a November 2014 deadline for registration.
Many groups curtailed their operations, relocated employees outside Egypt or took steps to register under the 2002 law, according to Human Rights Watch.
The Nadeem Center closed its legal clinic but continued to provide medical care and counseling, Human Rights Watch said. The center also issues monthly summaries of reported instances of torture, death and medical negligence in police custody.