The Egyptian government has shut down a legal aid organisation that supports torture victims because it had no interest in supporting human rights, according to a major international organisation.
According to Human Rights Watch, the government issued a decree closing the Cairo-based Association for Human Rights Legal Aid (AHRLA) and moved to take control of the organisation's assets on Tuesday.
The Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, said: "This outrageous order shows that President Mubarak's government is more interested in obstructing than protecting basic rights."
The US campaign group Human Rights Watch issued a report calling on the Egyptian government to reverse the decree.
Human Rights Watch said Egyptian government officials had closed the non-government organisation because it had received foreign funds without prior government approval, citing article 17 of the Egyptian law on associations.
AHRLA reports on human rights violations and provides legal assistance to torture victims.
The foreign donors reportedly include the Canadian International Development Agency, the Swiss Embassy in Cairo, and the US National Endowment for Democracy.
According to the AHRLA's board chairman Tarek Khater, the NGO had requested permission from the ministry of social solidarity to accept the grants as required by law, but finally proceeded to use the funds after ministry officials repeatedly delayed giving approval.
Human Rights Watch said the NGO's assets and offices would be under government control, starting from 18 September.
The legal aid organisation has appealed the decree in Egypt's Administrative Court and a hearing has been set for 21 October.
Last Mod: 18 Eylül 2007, 15:41