ACLJ and ECLJ Fight for Egyptian Christian's Human Rights
Today the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), along with its European affiliate the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), asked a federal district court in Pennsylvania to protect the human rights of a Coptic Christian from Egypt who is likely to face torture and possible death if he is returned to his native country. The ACLJ and the ECLJ, which has special consultative status with the United Nations (UN), filed an amicus brief with the district court on behalf of Sameh Sami S. Khouzam.
This is an important case involving basic human rights and the proper role of the U.S. government. A federal judge has temporarily put the deportation of Khouzam on hold, and it is only proper that such an order be made permanent to protect him from the likelihood of torture that all too often ends in death. As a Coptic Christian, Khouzam effectively has no rights in his native Egypt; and quite frankly, because of his religious beliefs, he is certain to be denied the most basic of human rights and protections. The U.S. government repeatedly has stated its opposition to torture and should do what’s right – keep Khouzam out of the hands of a government that is likely to do just that.
The case involving Khouzam is nearly a decade old. Just last month, a federal district court in Pennsylvania put a temporary hold on the deportation of Khouzam, saying that “he most assuredly has a right not to be tortured.”
In our amicus brief, we contend that Egypt’s assurances that it won’t torture Khouzam are simply not credible. “Coptic Christians, like Sameh Khouzam, struggle for basic human rights, including religious freedom, in Egypt,” the brief argues. Citing the U.S. Copts Association, the brief states: “Despite international disapproval, the Egyptian government ‘continues to deny Copts basic rights such as judicial and police protection from persecution, freedom of religious expression and worship, and equal opportunity employment.’ As a result, millions of Coptic Christians have immigrated to Western countries to flee persecution in Egypt.”
Our brief also contends that the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) – implemented in 1984 – should apply in this case. CAT states that “[n]o State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” The brief asserts that “where the receiving country has a poor human rights track record, like Egypt does, diplomatic assurances should carry almost no weight.”
The ECLJ recently received special consultative status from the UN – a designation that enhances the global nature of the ACLJ’s religious liberty and human rights work that already spans more than 35 countries.