Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence responded formally on Thursday to accusations by the Health Ministry that the center has been closed over illegal, unregistered practices.
According to the ministry, the center shifted its focus from being a purely medical facility to taking on human rights issues and advocacy, in violation of the law.
In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry said it had warned Al-Nadeem to deal with these issues several times to no avail, prompting their decision to close the center.
Al-Nadeem’s Thursday statement asserted that the wider center doesn’t fall under the remit of the Health Ministry. The organization, which was established in 1993, includes a clinic for psychiatric rehabilitation, which acquired the necessary permit from the Doctors Syndicate and a license to operate from the Health Ministry, they explained.
As the ministry doesn’t issue licenses for clinics providing psychiatric rehabilitation, Al-Nadeem had to register as a “psychiatric and neurological” clinic. “The center and clinic have not changed their names since they were established. What has changed is the nature of the organization’s activity, and accordingly the center’s contract was altered and approved in court,” Al-Nadeem’s statement explained.
The research, reports and training conducted were never released by the clinic, just by the center, which has a different location and address — meaning they never altered the activity of the center as the Health Ministry claimed, the statement asserted.
“If the ministry means by human rights activity, [exposing] ‘torture and police oppression of members of terrorist organizations,’ this activity is done by the center not the clinic, which is none of the ministry’s business,” Al-Nadeem argued.
The center denied receiving any prior warnings from the ministry. A committee from the ministry raided the center in 2004, when officials took private case files, which was decried as a violation of patient privacy. The center was not closed as a result of the raid, however.
“The Health Ministry should have carried on with its responsibilities instead of being another face of the Interior Ministry or the Social Solidarity Ministry in its attempt to shut down the center,” Al-Nadeem declared in its strongly worded statement.
Staff at the center believe the decision to shut them down is political and was initiated on January 18, 2016, after they released a report on torture and police aggression.
Al-Nadeem concluded: “We are heading to the clinic on Saturday, and both the clinic and the center will remain open. If you insist on shutting them down, we will continue to release statements and reports and to work with torture victims as long as this state is using torture as a means to deal with its citizens.”