Egypt: Implementation of death sentences is a critical precedent

Press release
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FIDH strongly condemns the alarmingly increase in the application of the death penalty by the Egyptian authorities. On June 16, three men and one woman were executed in Assiut public prison, after their conviction for murder and robbery. On June 19, four men were executed, one in Cairo’s Appeal Prison, one in Wadi-al Natrun prison and two in Borg Al Arab prison in Alexandria following their conviction of murder. FIDH recalls that there has not been any recorded executions since October 2011. [1]

"The implementation of death sentences is a dangerous step regarding the right to life, after Egypt had applied a de facto moratorium since end of 2011. It is also a worrying precedent in light of the current context where Egyptian courts are upholding mass death sentences against political opponents in trials that are marred by irregularities and violations of due process” declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President, a member of the world coalition against death penalty.

On June 21, a criminal court in al-Minya upheld the death sentences of 183 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), including the Supreme Guide of the MB Mohamed Badie. The court had recommended death sentences to 683 individuals on April 28 and referred the case to the Grand Mufti for his opinion. The court acquitted 496 individuals and sentenced 4 to life imprisonment. The charges against the defendants, most of them were tried in absentia, included the killing of a police officer, in connection with the violence following the removal of Mohamed Morsi in August 2013.

Other mass death sentences have been recorded recently. Between March and June 2014, Egyptian courts have recommended death sentences for at least 566 individuals accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and participating in acts of violence in the aftermath of the August 2013 events. Among these cases, the Alexandria, and al-Minya courts have upheld death sentences against 38 individuals in May and April, respectively.

FIDH condemns the violation of the right to life through the application of the death penalty and calls for the immediate cancellation of these death sentences, and re-trials whilst making sure that fair trial guarantees will be respected in accordance with international standards. FIDH calls on the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to pronounce itself on the illegality of the procedures of the mass death sentences according to international and African human rights instruments.

FIDH reiterates its firm opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances, as it considers it an inhumane treatment and in some cases a form of torture. FIDH recalls that there is now a general trend towards abolition of the death penalty among states, and accordingly calls on Egypt to follow the same path.

The Egyptian authorities must abolish the death penalty for all crimes, impose an immediate moratorium on death sentence and execution, and to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights”, declared Florence Belivier, FIDH Deputy secretary general.

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