Cairo-based anti-torture NGO Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence received Amnesty International’s 2018 Germany Human Rights Award for what the international organization described as “a strong stand against torture,” according to a statement issued on Wednesday.
“For over 20 years, the centre has been documenting torture by Egyptian security forces and treating survivors of torture and violence at its specialist clinic, which is the only one of its kind in the country,” the Amnesty statement added.
The award is granted every two years to “individuals groups who have championed human rights under the most difficult of conditions.” The award ceremony will be held on April 16 in Berlin.
The award announcement, which comes a few days before the first anniversary of the forcible closure of Al-Nadeem’s headquarters, marked the seventh anniversary of the January 25 revolution which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
“By presenting the Amnesty Human Rights Award to the Nadeem Centre, we want to support all the courageous women and men who put their lives on the line in the struggle against torture, violence and despotism in Egypt,” stated Markus Beeko, the secretary general of Amnesty International in Germany.
The center’s forcible closure on February 9, 2017, came one year after the Health Ministry had issued a contested closure order. Despite an attempt to enforce the closure at the time, the doctors and the center’s staff continued to carry out operations for a year.
The Health Ministry argued at the time that the center violated the law by shifting its focus from providing medical services to advocating and working on human rights issues. At the time, Al-Nadeem’s response was that the wider organization does not fall under the supervision of the Health Ministry.
The center’s co-founder, Aida Seif al-Dawla, asserted that the closure was a politically motivated decision to target Al-Nadeem, due to its efforts to expose torture, oppression and police violations.
Authorities at Cairo International Airport banned Seif al-Dawla from international travel in November 2016 without prior notice, a step that is largely believed to be connected to a judicial investigation into accusations against a number of human rights organizations of receiving illegal foreign funding.
Weeks before Seif al-Dawla was banned from travel, Al-Nadeem was notified by bank employees that its bank account had been frozen following a directive from the Central Bank of Egypt. The freeze was lifted a few days later.
Al-Nadeem was established in 1993 and provides legal and psychological support for victims of torture and violence, especially inside prison and detention facilities, in addition to wider activities that include research and training.