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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, E/CN.4/2002/72, February 11, 2002: Egypt

57. On 17 May 2001 the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on torture concerning 56 individuals who were arrested on 10 May 2001, allegedly because of homosexual activities. These individuals were held in incommunicado detention and denied access to lawyers. It was further alleged that they were to be tried in a State Security Court for the offence of exploiting religion to promote extreme ideas to create strife and belittling revealed religions.[115]

59. On 19 November, the Special Rapporteur sent a joint urgent appeal with the Chairman of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the arrest of four presumed homosexuals under charges of “habitual practice of debauchery”. According to the information received, the four men were arrested on 10 November 2001 and have since been detained in the Boulak prison in Giza.  Reportedly, the four had not been charged, and it was not clear whether, if charged, they would appear before the Emergency State Security Court or a civil court.  It is alleged that while in detention, the four men have been subjected to beatings and humiliating treatment.

63. On 21 August, the Special Rapporteur received a response from the Government to the joint urgent appeal of 17 May 2001. The Government explained that the individuals concerned were members of an illegal organization and that all the measures taken against them were in accordance with the regulations concerning remand in custody pending investigation, contrary to the allegations that they were detained illegally or questioned without their lawyers present. Since Egyptian law contains no provision that designates sexual perversion as a criminal offence, the group was officially charged with showing contempt for religion and engaging openly in debauchery. During August, the youngest member of the group was put on trial separately since, being a juvenile, he is not subject to the measures applicable to adults.

64. The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its replies. He notes from press reports that at the trial of those suspected of homosexual activities (see his appeal of 17 May above) 23 persons were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of between three and five years, and 29 were acquitted. He remains concerned about the allegations of lack of access to lawyers and legal advice in sensitive criminal cases and the use of the State Security Court for the trial of crimes not constituting a threat to the security of the State.

Link to full text of the report: Report-SR Independence of Judiciary-2002-eng

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  1.  Please note that this case is also mentioned in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, E/CN.4/2002/76/Add.1, March 14, 2002, para. 507. The Working Group on arbitrary detention has also addressed this case in its Opinion No 7/2002 (Egypt), E/CN.4/2003/8/Add.1,  January 24, 2003, and in its annual reports of 2003, E/CN.4/2004/3, December 15, 2003 and of 2002, E/CN.4/2003/8, December 16, 2002.