Monday, February 29, 2016

Sisi dictatorship moves to shut down anti-torture NGO


Egypt rights group asks court to halt closure attempt

Staff at centre for victims of violence say government plan to shut it down is a "political decision"

An Egyptian organisation that documents rights abuses and treats torture victims said that it had filed an urgent application to an Egyptian 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 on Monday 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.

Staff of the organisation said on Sunday 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 centre would continue to operate, said staff member Suzan Fayad, despite the closure order, which the authorities plan to implement on Monday.

Human rights groups accuse President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government of widespread abuses, allegations it denies.

As armed forces chief, Sisi toppled President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

Security forces killed hundreds of Morsi supporters in the streets and arrested thousands of others. Secular activists were later rounded up.

Non-governmental organisations have been closed under what government critics say is a rollback of political freedoms won in the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of rule under President Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian authorities deny allegations by human rights groups and activists that security forces round up people and detain them in secret detention centres where they are tortured.

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.

*Photo courtesy of AP

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