says Amnesty International
Compiled by GayToday
Cairo, Egypt--Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of 'Mahmud', a 16-year-old Egyptian boy whose appeal against a three-year sentence for alleged homosexual behavior was yesterday adjourned by the Cairo Juvenile Court until November 21, 2001.
Mahmud, who was convicted on September 18, 2001 following his arrest in May for 'obscene behavior', was initially held in detention for two weeks and denied the right to meet his family or to be seen by a lawyer. Confessions extracted from Mahmud during this period were subsequently used as evidence in his trial, despite his lawyer's claims that they were made under pressure and later withdrawn.
A spokesman for Amnesty International, Defense for Children International, Human Rights Watch and International Federation for Human Rights said today:
"We are extremely concerned about the conviction and harsh sentencing of a child for his alleged sexual orientation.
"We are seriously concerned that this child was interrogated in violation of international standards and that subsequent confessions were allowed as evidence before the court."
According to Article 37 (d) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Egypt is a State Party, "Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance."
Mahmud was reportedly arrested on May 10, 2001 at about 11pm on Ramsis Street in the centre of Cairo. He was first held at al-Azbekiya police station, before being transferred to the State Security Intelligence Department in the Misr al-Gadida district of Cairo; there he was questioned in connection with investigations against a group of more than 50 other detainees suspected of consensual sexual activities with persons of the same sex.
Mahmud was questioned in connection with investigations against this group, who themselves reported that when in pre-trial detention, and particularly in the first few days following their arrest in May 2001, they had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during sessions at the State Security Prosecution Office. No thorough and impartial investigation is known to having been conducted into these allegations.
On August 15, 2001 Amnesty International UK's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) network presented a letter to the Egyptian embassy in London calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all 52 men while expressing extreme concern over allegations of torture and ill-treatment.