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International News

Watchdogs: Egypt Ups Arrests of HIV-Positive Suspects in Crackdown Violating Human Rights

February 22, 2008

In a joint statement issued Feb. 15, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that the arrests of 12 HIV-positive men in Egypt could undermine HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in the country, as people will be afraid to seek information and treatment for the disease.

This month, Egyptian police arrested four more HIV-positive men, bringing to eight the total number of HIV-positive men in detention. Four other men, arrested earlier, were convicted of "habitual practice of debauchery" -- a term used in the country's legal system for consensual homosexual acts -- in mid-January and sentenced to one-year prison terms. These convictions were upheld Feb. 2 by an appeals court, New York-based HRW said.

"In their misguided attempt to apply Egypt's unjust law on homosexual conduct, authorities are carrying on a crackdown against people living with HIV/AIDS," said HRW's Rebecca Schliefer. "This not only violates the most basic rights of people living with HIV. It also threatens public health, by making it dangerous for anyone to seek information about HIV prevention or treatment."

Though police deny any HIV-related arrests, one law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said there is a campaign to get persons who are registered as HIV-positive into "special clinics." The official said the four men police recently rounded up were sent to "precautionary hospital detention" for treatment.

HRW and London-based Amnesty said the latest arrests came after police followed up on information coerced from those already in custody. The watchdog groups are calling on Cairo to release all 12 men.

Back to other news for February 2008

Adapted from:
Associated Press
02.15.2008; Katarina Kratovac

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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