EIPR Asks the Gov. To Stop Pursuing Individuals For Personal Practices and To Make Amends To The Suspects In The Case of “Al-Bahr” Bathhouse

Press Release

14 January 2015

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) welcomed the acquittal of the suspects in al-Bahr bathhouse case, and called on the government to stop pursuing people based on their sexual orientation, or what is believed to be their sexual identity.

On January 12, Al-Galaa’ summary court ordered the acquittal of the 26 defendants in case no. 16050/ 2014, misdemeanors, referred by Al-Azbakiyyah police station – dubbed in the media as the case of “Bab al-Bahr Bathhouse”. The arrest of, and investigation with the suspects was aggravated with abuses of several fundamental civil rights – upheld by the Constitution – particularly the right to private live. This particular right was violated, when the police forces permitted filming the act of arrest and broadcasting some shots thereof on TV. Moreover, the arrestees were subjected to humiliating treatment according to the detainees and their families by the police forces throughout the weeks of pretrial detention.

EIPR’s concern is aggravated because this case is neither the only nor is it the last. EIPR detected an organized months-long campaign by the Vice Police Department against individuals on grounds of appearance or personal practices. These individuals are forced to confess crimes they have not committed, or matters that do not stand as crimes in the first place as per the provisions of the Constitution and the Penal Code. EIPR observed the arrest of more than 150 people based on charges of debauchery and indecent acts during the past year. Court sentences in some of those cases have reached 8 years of imprisonment.

However, in the bathhouse case, the Head of Investigations Unit in the Vice Police Department, Cairo Security Directorate, gave a detailed testimony about the sexual positions exercised by the suspects at the time of arrest. These allegations were denied by all defendants – and were later disproven. EIPR stresses the importance of respecting the right of individuals to privacy –a basic right upheld by the Constitution. EIPR maintains that the government has no authority over consensual personal practices by individuals. EIPR hopes that this acquittal shall be the end of this ferocious campaign by the police against homosexual and transgendered citizens, or those believed to fall within such groups.

EIPR further emphasizes the importance of respecting the privacy suspects and defendants’ personal information and protecting their identities in the media. EIPR calls on the Supreme Council of the Press and the Syndicate of Journalists to uphold their duty in safeguarding the ethics of the profession of journalism, and to condemn such practices, even if such acts are committed by reporters who aren’t officially registered with the syndicate– as was the case with the reporter Mona al-Iraqi, who attended the arrest procedures and broadcast the events in her program.

EIPR, additionally, calls upon the Public Prosecution to redress the damage done to all the defendants in this case by enforcing Article 312 of the Code of Criminal Procedures and publishing news of the acquittal in two, wide-spread, daily newspapers at the expense of the government. It is noteworthy that this case had a negative impact on the reputation and the lives of the individuals arrested and their families. Thus, it is the duty of public prosecution to restore the reputation of all these individuals and to compensate them for the damage they incurred.