CAIRO - Egyptian police raided and shut down on Thursday a prominent local organization that documents alleged human rights abuses and treats torture victims, the group's lawyer told Reuters.
Taher Abu al-Nasr, who represents the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture, said police and officials from the Cairo municipal authority carrying out an order from last year sealed three flats belonging to the center.
"The center was sealed with wax today as per the order issued in February 2016 which we have challenged in court," he said, adding that he filed a second complaint on Thursday because the initial closure order had only included one flat.
The government had ordered the closure of the center last year without providing an official reason. Health ministry sources at the time said it committed unspecified violations.
The center was blocked from accessing its bank account in November and was told it needs to register as a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Nadeem says it is registered as a clinic with the health ministry and does not need to register as an NGO. Abu al-Nasr said authorities closed the center without waiting for the outcome of its judicial appeal. The ministry and Cairo municipality could not be reached for comment.
Egyptian authorities deny allegations by human rights groups and activists that security forces round up people and torture them in secret detention centers.
"They used the fact that Thursday and Friday are the official days off at the center to go close the clinic and two other flats," said Magda Adly, one of the center's founders.
The flat that is subject to the closure order houses the clinic for torture victims, she said. The other two house the part of the center that documents abuses and a project that rehabilitates female victims of violence.
"Today's shutdown of the Nadeem Center, an organization which offers crucial support to survivors of torture and violence, is yet another shocking attack on civil society in Egypt," deputy director for campaigns at Amnesty International's Tunis regional office Najia Bounaim said.
"The move exposes the chilling extremes to which authorities are prepared to go to in their relentless and unprecedented persecution of human rights activists in recent years."