Founder of anti-torture center denies gov’t remarks on license violations
Suzan Fayad, one of four founders of El-Nadeem Center, during a Feb.21, 2016 conference at press syndicate. Photo by Hussein Tallal/Youm7

CAIRO: Psychiatrist Suzan Fayad has denied a Wednesday statement by Health Ministry claiming the El-Nadeem Center, which is threatened to be closed, has breached its work licenses, in statements to The Cairo Post.

After its initial unspecified warning to shut down the El-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the Ministry of Health issued a detailed statement Wednesday citing the reasons for the imposed closure.

In 2003, El-Nadeem received a license as a “Joint clinic for psychiatric and neurological diseases,” said the ministry’s statement, adding that the clinic’s activities were spotted a while ago to “have been changed to a rehabilitation center for victims of violence without asking for a license change.”

The ministry claimed El-Nadeem has committed two violations; first by “changing its name from a clinic to a center,” and the second by “changing its activity from medical to human rights.,” which according to the ministry, requires withdrawing licenses from the medical facility that did not rectify its situation within a determined notice period.

Health Ministry Spokesperson Khaled Megahed assured to The Cairo Post Wednesday that the decision to cancel the center’s licenses is legal and “is issued per law, and not by coincidence.”

For Dr. Fayad, one of four doctors who established the center, she denied what came in the statement as “untrue” and that the center obtained a license under its current title from the Doctors’ Syndicate in 1993; the same year of the center’s establishment.

She went on explaining that when the center required licenses from the Health Ministry, “it rejected to license us under the same title, because the ministry does not have such category in its licensing system,” and instead “told us to practice our activities as normal but under the title ‘clinic’.”

“Since then, we have had two different titles, and for 22 years of operation, we have not been blamed for it,” Fayad said, adding that she does not see a difference in the activities practiced under both titles.

Fayad added that even in a similar incident that shut the center down for a month in 2004, the ministry did not complain about the license, and only questioned why the center receives African patients, inquired about the lack of a fire extinguisher and the reason the center is involved in human rights activities.

The implementation of the ministry’s decision was delayed after initially issued on Feb.17; El-Nadeem center announced Sunday appealing the decision before the Administrative Court.

The closure decision has yet not been executed; Fayad thinks that authorities are waiting for “suitable time to impose the decision when [uproar against the decision] fades out.”

Fayad previously quoted official documents stating that the decision was primarily issued by the cabinet, and that it targeted the center due to its monthly reports that cite police violence.

“It is a political decision,” Dr. Aida Seif el-Dawla, one of the founders of El-Nadeem Center, said during a Sunday conference, vowing that reports citing torture will continue until “the state stops torture.”

In January, the center spotted 137 deaths of prisoners inside detention places took place during 2015, 39 of which were due to torture.

The threat to close El-Nadeem is one of several recent actions by the government to crackdown on NGOs and activists. On Tuesday, investigative journalist and human rights advocate Hossam Bahgat was banned from traveling per a prosecutor’s order. Many academics were reportedly banned from traveling or arrested on arrival at airport.

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