Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Human Rights Watch calls on Egypt to stop criminalizing HIV

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Egyptian authorities to overturn the convictions of four men for the supposed “habitual practice of debauchery” and several others who are held waiting for a trial. The convictions seem to be purely motivated by one of the men’s admittance to being HIV-positive.

“These shocking arrests and trials embody both ignorance and injustice,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt threatens not just its international reputation but its own population if it responds to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with prison terms instead of prevention and care.”

The first arrests occurred in October 2007, when a man stopped by police admitted that he was HIV-positive. The police immediately took him, and the man he was speaking with at the time, into the custody of the Morality Police. For days afterwards they were interrogated, beaten, forcibly given an HIV test, and subjected to forensic anal examinations in order to “prove” that they were practicing homosexuals. Police officers then arrested two more acquaintances of the men whom they subjected to similarly invasive interrogation and abuse. Before long, additional men were also arrested simply for moving into the vacant apartment of one of the originally arrested men.

Human Rights Watch calls on the Egyptian government to adhere to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which affirms the rights of prisoners against cruel and inhuman treatment. Egypt has been party to this covenant since 1982.

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