‘The El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence is a lifeline for hundreds of victims of torture’ - Philip Luther
The Egyptian authorities must immediately retract an order to freeze the bank account of the renowned El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, said Amnesty International today.
The organisation, a clinic which provides hundreds of torture victims with vital services including counselling and legal assistance, learned today that its financial assets were frozen according to an order by the Central Bank of Egypt. The bank’s letter, which the centre has yet to receive a copy of, states that the bank account freeze will be imposed until the organisation conforms with a Mubarak-era NGO law.
The El Nadeem Center was not informed about the decision in advance, as is required under Egyptian law, undermining their ability to correct errors or prepare their legal defence. The bank had been in regular contact with the organisation over the past ten days and had requested documents to update its bank account, which the centre had provided.
Amnesty believes the authorities are using the bank account freeze to force the centre to shut down in retaliation for its work helping victims of torture and the family members of those subjected to enforced disappearances. This is not the first time the Egyptian authorities have attempted to stop El Nadeem from carrying out its work. In February, the authorities issued an administrative decree to close the centre without providing a reason. That decree is currently being challenged before administrative courts.
Amnesty is insisting that El Nadeem must be given an opportunity to challenge the order before a court, and pending the trial, it must have full access to its bank accounts.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence is a lifeline for hundreds of victims of torture and for families of people who have been subjected to enforced disappearance.
“The Egyptian authorities’ decision to arbitrarily freeze its bank account is a cruel blow to human rights in the country.
“Instead of lashing out at El Nadeem Center, the Egyptian authorities should be implementing safeguards to prevent torture in custody and end enforced disappearances.
“This is yet more evidence of the Egyptian authorities’ chilling contempt of perceived critics.
“Obstructing care for victims of torture is inexcusable.”