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Egyptian Anti-Torture Group Vows to Defy Government Move to Shut It Down

22 February 2016 11:11


An Egyptian organization that documents rights abuses and treats torture victims has filed an urgent application to a court in the hope of halting plans by authorities to shut it down.

The director of the Nadeem centre for the rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture told a news conference on Sunday that a health ministry decision to shut it down was part of the toughest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history.

“This is a political decision,” said Aida Seif el-Dawla. “And it’s coming from the cabinet that represents all the actors that are keen on the survival of this regime, despite the oppression and the torture that the Egyptian people are living through on a daily basis.”

Sources in the health ministry, which issues licences for the Nadeem centre, have said it committed unspecified violations, the Guardian reported on Monday.

Staff of the organization said its complaint to the administrative court argued that it should have been informed of any violations of regulations and given time to rectify them.

The center would continue to operate, said staff member Suzan Fayad, despite the closure order, which the authorities plan to implement on Monday.

Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized the threatened closure, saying it is part of a sweeping crackdown on human rights activists.

In 2003, Human Rights Watch awarded Seif el-Dawla its highest honour for her work to combat torture and promote freedom of association in Egypt.

Human rights groups accuse president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government of widespread abuses, allegations it denies.

As armed forces chief, Sisi toppled former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule. Security forces killed hundreds of Morsi supporters in the streets and arrested thousands of others.

Egypt’s human rights record has come under fresh scrutiny since Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni, 28, was found dead on the outskirts of Cairo this month. His body showed signs of torture.

The government has denied media reports that he was arrested by security forces before his death.

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