Federal Judge Stops Deportation to Egypt Because of Likelihood of Torture

The ACLU reports:

In the first decision of its kind, a federal judge today ordered the government to stop the deportation of Egyptian national Sameh Khouzam based on a secret and unreliable “assurance” from the Egyptian government that it will not torture him upon his return. The judge called for Khouzam’s immediate release from jail under reasonable conditions of supervision and granted his habeas corpus petition. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit on Khouzam’s behalf, applauded the judge’s ruling.[More....]

tating that Khouzam “made a credible showing that he had been the victim of torture at the hands of Egyptian law enforcement,” Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania soundly rejected the Bush administration’s claim that the executive branch has unfettered authority to remove Khouzam. Judge Vanaskie noted that removing Khouzam based on diplomatic assurances without court review would render the procedures established for seeking protection under the Convention Against Torture “a farce.” He added, “Not even the President of the United States has the authority to sacrifice on the alter [sic] of foreign relations the right to be free from torture.”

The background:

Sameh Khouzam, a Christian who came to the United States in 1998 fleeing religious persecution in Egypt, was granted protection from deportation under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 2004 after a federal appeals court found that he would likely be tortured if sent back to Egypt. Despite this finding, as well as State Department reports showing that Egypt routinely engages in torture, the U.S. government tried to summarily deport Khouzam to Egypt based on “diplomatic assurances” the U.S. claims to have received from the Egyptian government that it asserts are “sufficiently reliable” to protect him from torture.

The Convention Against Torture prevents the U.S. from sending a person to a country where they might be tortured. The ACLU says,

The U.S. government is using diplomatic assurances – in Khouzam’s case and others – to circumvent its treaty obligations, and transferring individuals to foreign countries without judicial review.

A Reuters report on the decision is here.

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    Thank heaven 1 judge has head screwed on straight (none / 0) (#1)
    by Nowonmai on Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:42:43 PM EST
    How many have applied for asylum due to religious persecution, and been denied and deported, only to have been 'disappeared' when sent back to where they ran from. And then surprisingly (sarcastically said)show up dead of undisclosed injuries, or 'suicide'.