Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Coptic Christian faces deportation and possible torture

A temporary stay of deportation was granted to Sameh Khouzam, an Egyptian citizen currently residing in Pennsylvania, until June 7 as his lawyers scramble to convince the courts to release him, instead of deporting him to Egypt, where many fear he will be tortured. Khouzam’s original reason for entering and remaining in the U.S. was to flee the same persecution that he may now face upon his return, The New York Times reported today.

Khouzam entered the U.S. in 1998, claiming that he had been detained and tortured in Egypt for refusing to convert to Islam. He was allowed to stay under the Convention Against Torture Act, which states that “foreign citizens cannot be repatriated to countries where they stand a reasonable chance of being tortured.” According to Egyptian authorities, Khouzam was tried and found guilty of murder in Egypt before he fled to the United States. They say they have proved his guilt and that he must serve his prison term when he returns. The government has provided “diplomatic assurances” that claim that Khouzam will not be tortured when he returns. However, rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch say that these are not credible promises, based on Egypt’s notorious history of torture.

Egypt’s record has put the country on several watch lists, and has been described by The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as “a poor overall human rights record.” However, the Egyptian government’s response to accusations of state-sanction torture was that if any such incidences had occurred, they were only “isolated acts.”

The ACLU has taken the case and is working to get the stay prolonged so that they may further their argument for Khouzam’s release. In the meantime, Khouzam remains at a detention facility in Pennsylvania.

For the full article, click here.



Post a Comment

<< Home