Egyptian government forces have shut down the offices of a prominent human rights organization that provides help to torture victims in the North African country.
“About 15 policemen in official uniform with a group of civilians sealed three apartments in the building belonging to El Nadeem,” Aida Seif Elldawla, the co-founder of the El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, told AFP on Thursday.
The Cairo-based medical care center has since 1993 offered psychological rehabilitation, support and counseling to victims of torture and abuses, including sexual assault.
“We didn’t violate any rules and the government has not provided any reasons for its closure decision,” said Seif Elldawla, adding that the center had filed a lawsuit against the closure.
A policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the center had been closed for violating the terms of its license.
Egyptian and foreign NGOs operating in the country are governed by a strict law, which allows the government to supervise their activities and finances.
El Nadeem was registered with the Health Ministry and the doctors’ union as a “medical clinic,” said Suzanne Fayad, another co-founder of the group.
This is the second time authorities shut down the center amid public outcry over the military-backed government’s harsh crackdown on government critics.
In November, authorities froze El Nadeem’s assets for a week before the organization submitted a document proving the center is not subject to the law, El Nadeem said.
International rights groups have criticized President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government for its crackdown on dissent as well as its human rights violations, including forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions.
Sisi led the junta overthrow of democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, following mass protests.