Statement from the Regional Coalition for WHRDs in the MENA Region
El Nadeem Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of victims of violence is an independent Egyptian NGO that was established in 1993, providing psychological support and rehabilitation services for victims of violence. El Nadeem Center’s vision calls for ending all forms of torture and violence, as well as providing support and solidarity to the victims in all possible ways. The Center has been also providing various reports that document violations against Human Rights Defenders, and victims of violence in Egypt. In their latest report, El Nadeem center documented different types of violations committed by members of the Egyptian police, with 272 persons killed due to torture, 27 incidents of collective torture, 97 case of medical negligence, 16 case of sexual assault, and 119 case of forced disappearance. These violations are just the tip of the iceberg.
On the 17th of February 2016, the center received a decision by the private health sector, an administration within the Ministry of Health, ordering the immediate closure of the El Nadeem Center. The Free Treatment Directorate claimed that the center had not applied all necessary conditions requested by the Ministry of Health. Two police officers and an engineer from the health administration attempted to shut down the center. El Nadeem’s lawyer intervened and successfully postponed the closure procedure until Monday the 22nd of February 2016, in order to have the ministry of health explain the reasons behind the closure, since they still remain unknown.
This decision is one of several unjustified procedures by the Egyptian state targeting HRDs and WHRDs in Egypt. The frequency of such actions has been on the rise, where this year alone, more that 56 Human Right Defenders have been banned from traveling without any clear reason, and some have had their passports confiscated by the Egyptian authorities without any justifications. Additionally, the Egyptian authorities have been shutting down cultural organizations, theaters, and publishing houses in contradiction with Egypt’s commitment to the UNESCO agreement. There have been many cases of police officers and security members showing up at different human rights organizations and threatening the employees.
The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (WHRD-MENA) considers the attempt to close El Nadeem Center, a founding member of the coalition, as a continuation of the politics of threatening human rights defenders in Egypt. The Egyptian state is clearly making an effort to isolate, imprison and silence all those who call for accountability with regards to violations, and who are demanding respect for human rights as mentioned in the Egyptian constitution and the international laws that Egypt has sign and agreed on.
As a WHRD coalition, we call for immediate solidarity with El Nadeem Center regionally and internationally, and we ask the ministry of Health to withdraw the decision. The efforts of the Egyptian state to attack those who are trying to make Egypt a better place would have more remarkable results if used to hold those committing torture accountable, where Egypt would have become a safer place for everyone.
The Egyptian state must stop bullying and silencing its Human Rights Defenders! Don’t Close El Nadeem Center, withdraw the decision now!