Egypt closes offices of key anti-torture centre
CAIRO - The Egyptian authorities on Thursday closed the offices of a prominent human rights group that helps victims of violence and torture, the organisation and a police official said.
El Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence in Cairo offers psychological rehabilitation to victims of abuses including sexual assault.
"About 15 policemen in official uniform with a group of civilians sealed three apartments in the building belonging to El Nadeem," co-founder Aida Seif Elldawla told AFP by phone.
"We didn't violate any rules and the government has not provided any reasons for its closure decision," said Seif Elldawla, adding that the centre had filed a lawsuit against the order.
A policeman said the centre had been closed for violating the terms of its licence, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Authorities have tried on two separate occasions to shut down El Nadeem Centre amid accusations by human rights groups that the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is stifling civil society groups.
Rights campaigners accuse the authorities of human rights violations, including forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions.
Seif Elldawla was banned from travel to Tunisia on November 23, along with several other rights activists and lawyers who are not allowed to leave the country.
Egyptian and foreign NGOs operating in the country are governed by a strict law which allows the government to supervise their activities and finances.
In November, authorities froze El Nadeem's assets for a week before the organisation submitted a document "proving" the centre is not subject to the law, El Nadeem said.
The organisation was registered with the health ministry and the doctors' union as a "medical clinic," El Nadeem co-founder Suzanne Fayad said.
Egypt's parliament approved in November a new law to regulate the activities of non-governmental organisations, in a move that triggered fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society.