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Egypt
17.11.16
Urgent Interventions

Asset freeze of El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation for Victims of Violence and Torture

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY


New information

EGY 001 / 0216 / OBS 019.3

Harassment / Asset freeze /

Restrictions to freedom of association

Egypt
November 17, 2016


The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) andFIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in thefollowing situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the assetfreeze of El Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation for Victims of Violence andTorture (“El Nadeem Center”)[1],based in Cairo.

According to the information received, on November 10, 2016, El NadeemCenter was informed that their assets had been frozen, following a directive ofthe Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). Several other NGOs have been allegedlysubjected to the same administrative measure. The reason to justify the assetfreeze is the non-compliance of El Nadeem Center with Law 84/2002 (the NGO law). El Nadeem Center does not have yet the possibility to take legalaction as they are still waiting for an official notification from the CBE.

The Observatory would like to recall that El Nadeem Center was not partof case 173/2011 (the “foreign funding case” against civil society), withinwhich framework on September 17, 2016, several human rights defenders and NGOswere subjected to an asset freeze[2].

It has also to be recalled that, overthe past months El-Nadeem Centerhas been subjected to closure threats and this new development constitute afurther attempt to undermine its legitimate human rights work (see backgroundinformation).

Moreover, the Observatory recalls that the decision to freeze El NadeemCenter’s assets comes at a time of rising government pressure on independenthuman rights groups in Egypt, in the context of a dramatic deterioration of thehuman rights situation in the country, marked namely by a massive crackdown oncivil society and a notable increase in cases of torture, deaths in detentionand enforced disappearances.

TheObservatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionallyput an end to all acts of harassment against El Nadeem Center and against allhuman rights organisations in the country, and to comply with its constitutionalobligations (in particular Article 78 and Article 93 of the 2014 EgyptianConstitution which respectively recognise the right to freedom of associationand Egypt’s compliance with international human rights conventions ratified byEgypt) as well as its international legal obligations (in particular Article 22of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – ICCPR).

Background information:

On February 17, 2016 about 4 p.m. two police officers from the AzbakeyyaDistrict authority and one city employee ordered the employees of El NadeemCenter to leave the center's premises. The three men delivered an “administrative closure order” signedby the Director of the Health Ministry’sFree Treatment Directorate and addressed to the head of the Azbakeyya districtauthority, referring to a violation of Law 453/1954[3].The document ordered the closure of the center based on a decision signed onFebruary 8, 2016, “for breaching licenseconditions” (providing no furtherinformation) stamped by the Cairo district on February 15. The implementationof the order was postponed until February 22, 2016.

Atthe beginning of February, the center wasvisited by an employee of the Ministry of Health, who came to inspect thecenter based on an order given by phone from the Minister of Health himself.The minister employee did not have any official papers nor an inspectionwarrant. The employee of the Ministry ordered a copy of the center's license.No breaches of regulations were noted.

On February 21, 2016, Ms. Aida Seif al-Dawla, Director of ElNadeem Center and Dr. Suzan Fayad, Founder of El Nadeem Centeraccompanied by their lawyer Ms. Maha Yucef and the head of the Cairo'sdoctor's syndicate Dr. Sanaa Fuad, held meetings with representatives ofthe Ministry of Health to discuss about the “administrative closure order”issued against El Nadeem Center on February 17, 2016, for allegedly “breachinglicence conditions”, without providing further information. On February 20,2016, El Nadeem Center's lawyer filed an urgent motion to the AdministrativeCourt of First Instance to suspend the implementation of the closure order.Meanwhile, the implementation of the order was postponed until February 22 uponEl Nadeem Center's request pending meetings at the MoH.

During the meetings, El Nadeem Center's representatives were informedthat the MoH had ordered the closure of El Nadeem Center for violating itslicense, referring to the conduct of activities which did not fall within themandate for which El Nadeem Center had been licensed. Such activities includethe publication of torture reports, which according to the Ministry is notlinked with rehabilitation and is not a medical activity, and especially, thepublication in January 2016 of a review of “2015 in numbers” in the Egyptiannewspaper Al-Masry Al-youm, summarizing cases of deaths, torture andmedical neglect in detention in 2015 as well as cases of extra judicialkillings reported in the media. However, during the meetings, no professionalor medical breaches were identified with regards to El Nadeem Center'sactivities.

El Nadeem Center's representativesrequested a moratorium and the suspension of the closure order pending anagreement on ways to disengage their medical activities from their human rightsadvocacy activities. The request was rejected.

On February 20, 2016, El NadeemCenter challenged the closure order before the Administrative Court. Thecomplaint included an urgent request to delay implementation of the closureorder until the Court has heard the appeal, but that urgent request was notaccepted.

In the afternoon of April 5, 2016, the Egyptian Ministry of Health (MoH)sent a delegation to El Nadeem Center to implement the administrative closureorder and close the Center. El Nadeem directors refused to comply and leave thepremises, as the MoH representatives did not present the original document ofthe closure order, as required by law.

The MoH representatives decided to leave the premises but called theInterior Ministry (MoI) to request the intervention of police forces to enforcethe order.

OnApril 6, 2016, El Nadeem Center sent anothertelegram to the Director in charge of non-governmental treatment institutionsand licences at the MOH stating that the closing team did not have an officialorder with them, that the center was not inspected for any violations and thatthey had not been informed of any violations to correct. The memorandumrequested, again, to suspend the closing order and to form a medical inspectioncommittee to inspect the clinic for any professional breaches.

Atthe same time, El Nadeem Center’s staff was informed via the media that theAzbakeyya district Governorate had filed a complaint against them at theAzbakeya police station for not allowing the closing team to execute theclosing order.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking themto:

i. Immediately and unconditionally lift the assetfreeze against El Nadeem Center;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against ElNadeem Center, as well as in general against all human rights organisations anddefenders in Egypt;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of theUnited Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with itsArticle 1 5(b) and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respectfor human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with internationalhuman rights standards and international instruments ratified by Egypt.

Addresses:

· President of the ArabRepublic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt,Fax: +202 23901998

· Prime Minister, Mr. SherifIsmail, Magles El Shaab Street, Kasr El Aini Street, Cairo, Egypt. Fax: + 2022735 6449 / 27958016. Email: primemin@idsc.gov.eg

· Minister of the Interior, General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, Ministry of theInterior, El-Sheikh Rihan Street, Bab al-Louk, Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: moi1@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529

Minister of Justice, Mr.Ahmed Al-Zanad, Ministry of Justice, Magles El Saeb Street, Wezaret Al Adl,Cairo, Egypt, E-mail: mojeb@idsc.gov.eg, Fax: +202 2795 8103

Public Prosecutor,Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Dar al-Qadha al-Ali, Ramses Street, Cairo, Egypt, Fax:+202 2577 4716

Mr. Mohamed Fayeq,President of the National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 /25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg

H.E. Ms. Wafaa Bassim,Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, 49avenue Blanc, 1202 Genève, Switzerland,Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15

Embassy of Egypt inBrussels, 19 avenue de l’Uruguay, 1000Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt inyour respective country.

[1] El Nadeem Center isregistered in Egypt since 1993 and has provided hundreds of torture victimswith vital services including counseling and legal assistance. The Center issuesmonthly summaries of reported instances of torture, deaths, and medicalnegligence in police custody. Many of the Center’s patients say they have been tortured by Egyptiansecurity forces. [2] For more information see the Observatory Urgent AppealEGY 004 / 0615 / OBS 049.7, of September 19, 2016

[3] The law 453/1954regulates industrial and commercial shops, however, not clinics. The law statesthat “no business shop subject to this law can be set up or runwithout the relevant license; no changes or amendment in such shops may beexecuted without the approval of entity which issued such license.”

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