US Human Rights Groups Slam Lebanon for Harassing Homosexuals
Two US-based human rights associations Saturday accused the Lebanese authorities of "harassing" an Internet service provider (ISP) over the production of a website for gays.
A statement issued by Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission received by AFP condemned the authorities both for trying to put pressure on the ISP Destination to reveal the names of those producing the site and for prosecuting a human rights activist who publicized the vice police's actions in "harassing" the ISP.
"Access to the Internet is an integral right to free expression. And an Internet service provider such as Destination should not be liable for Internet content," HRW official Hanny Megally said in the statement.
The statement deplored the fact that Destination general manager Ziad Mugraby and Kamal el-Batal, executive director of the MIRSAD human rights group, faced trial in a military court because they had "tarnished the reputation" of the vice police.
"Civilians should never be tried in military courts, which lack the fuller independence of the civilian judiciary," Megally said.
Mugraby and Batal face between three months and three years imprisonment if found guilty, the statement said.
Kamal Fizazi of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission warned the case threatened the rights of all, although the government had this time "targeted a vulnerable and unpopular group."
"Prosecuting Kamal el-Batal for criticizing police harassment and interference with free expression sends a message that no critic of the authorities is safe," he said – BEIRUT (AFP)
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