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Egyptian association for torture victims wins court case against closure

A Cairo Administrative Court rescinded the government’s decision to dissolve the Association for Human rights and Legal Aid (AHRLA) on 26 October 2008. This followed an appeal by the association. The court ruling found the government’s decision to be legally groundless and reinstated AHRLA. Tariq Khater, Director of AHRLA said to Amnesty International that “despite its delay, the court’s decision is a clear message from the State Council [Maglis ad-Dawla] to the Egyptian government to respect the work of civil society associations and not to use administrative and legal proceedings to obstruct their work”.   In September 2007, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Cairo Governorate dissolved AHRLA - an association that offers legal support to victims of torture and other ill-treatment - allegedly for breaching the Law on Associations (Law 84 of 2002), which prohibits non-governmental organizations from receiving foreign funds or donations without prior permission from the authorities. Tariq Khater added “We expect to face difficulties and obstacles when we reopen AHRLA as the court’s decision comes against the government’s will”. Amnesty International welcomes the court’s ruling and urges the Egyptian authorities to implement it without delay. The organization also urges the authorities to return immediately all AHRLA’s funds, financial records as well as all materials, documents, and computers confiscated from the association’s premises in order to allow it to function normally again and to do its work in defence of torture victims. Amnesty International renews its call on the Egyptian authorities to abolish or amend national laws and administrative procedures which impede the work of human rights organizations, such as the restrictive Law on Associations (Law 84 of 2002) and bring it in line with international law as set out by the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – commonly known as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.