Egypt's anti-torture El Nadeem Center remains open, health ministry is 'fabricating facts': director

Tuesday 01-03-2016 10:57 AM

Director of El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture Magda Adly in an interview with Aswat Masriya on Oct. 3, 2012

CAIRO, Feb. 24 (Aswat Masriya) – The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture committed two legal violations, namely changing its name and changing the nature of its activity, but the centre's director said the ministry was "fabricating facts".

Last Wednesday, a policeman, accompanied by an engineer, came to the office with orders from the health ministry to shut down El Nadeem for "violations". With the help of lawyer Taher Aboul Nasr, the centre was able to hold off the closure until the reasons for it were made clear.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the health ministry said that the centre was founded in 2003 as a "joint psychiatric and neurological clinic"; however, it later changed the nature of its activity from a "medical" to a "rights" centre, becoming a centre for the rehabilitation of violence victims.

Based on law 153/2004 which organises medical facilities, the name change from "clinic" to "centre" represents a violation, the health ministry spokesperson said, adding that the law stipulates tht changing the nature of activity is another reason that entails the revocation of the license given to a medical facility.

El Nadeem's Director Magda Adly commented on the ministry's statement saying that El Nadeem operates legally as both a clinic and a rehabilitation centre for victims of violence and torture.

The health ministry said that a warning was previously directed at El Nadeem in order to take corrective action but the centre did not respond in time, which necessitated the shutdown order.

An administrative order to shut down the centre was previously issued in June 2004; El Nadeem was accused of practicing "unauthorised activity", according to the ministry added.

In an interview with Aswat Masriya, El Nadeem's Adly stated that the health ministry was "fabricating facts" and denied the alleged administrative closure, saying that El Nadeem appealed the violations' report submitted against it with the Prosecutor General at the time.

Adly affirmed that El Nadeem remains open and operative; however, patients were advised not to visit the centre "as a precaution against a possible relapse" in the event the premises get stormed by security or administrative personnel.

Founded in 1993, El Nadeem provides "psychological management and rehabilitation to victims of torture," and has become reputable over the years, especially within the Egyptian civil society. The centre documents torture cases and campaigns against torture, sometimes speaking out about specific cases. 

Last December, El Nadeem and other civil society organisations like the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) told a press conference they were able to document 625 torture cases in Egyptian prisons, out of which 51 were cases of collective torture in the period between January and November 2015.

(This article was translated into English by Nourhan Fahmy.)

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