Egypt: Shocking escalation in executions

By 'The Stop Executions in Egypt Campaign', launched by the 'Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms' and other human rights organisations. 


The right to life is one of the most basic human rights. In all society's,religions,constitutions and in international law,each person has the right to be heard, and tried, in a 'just' court of law. In Egypt no said justice exists, when all the legitimate authorities are focused on wiping out any challenge by murdering and imprisoning opponents.

Since July 2013, 52 executions of political dissidents have taken place in Egypt. While the death penalty is enshrined in Egyptian law, these execution verdicts were handed down with total disregard to fundamental fairness or due process. Of the 13 trials that handed down execution verdicts, 7 were military tribunals. However even in the 5 ‘civilian’ trials, due process was completely absent as demonstrated by the court’s refusal to reconsider the evidence presented in the trial that resulted in execution of 9 young men on 20th February, in flagrant breach of Article 448 of the Egyptian legal code.

The most horrifying aspect of these trials is that all convictions were based solely on confessions extracted under severe torture, frequently following enforced disappearance that in itself was a breach of due process.

The defendants were subjected to the most severe forms of torture, and forced to confess to the murder under duress during interrogation. In court they denied the charges, sighting the Severity of their injuries and requested medical reports to prove their claim of duress.
Their judges ignored their legitimate right to request the medical examination or investigation.

In cases of torture and enforced disappearances, often ending with a death sentence completely violates the rules of proper criminal investigation and fair trial methods. If we have failed those poor souls already executed then we have a moral and humane responsibility to preserve the lives of 50 more Egyptian citizens, most of whom are very young and are victims of a broken legal system. All these confessions were renounced by the accused in the trials as the result of torture, but the courts proceeded to pass judgement solely on the basis of these enforced confessions. Worryingly the pace of execution has accelerated with 15 executions since February.

Egyptian authority has clamped down severely on all aspects of civil society organisations. There is no freedom of association to speak of, with laws that allow the ministry of Interior to ban gatherings of 10 or more people, while social media is monitored with more than 500 websites shut down over the last year. Reporters without Borders ranks Egypt 161 out 180 for press freedom in 2018; recording 8 journalists killed since 2013 . The 'fight against terrorism' in Sinai has involved extrajudicial killings and the destruction of thousands of homes and expulsion of families while journalists are denied access to the peninsula.

Without any shadow of doubt, the human rights situation in Egypt is dire and continues to deteriorate, while the authority feels its position is immune internationally. It assesses that it's relations with leading developed nations including the UK are safe because of trade, including Gas field concessions and arms sales, and that in the context of these mercantile relationships, human rights will therefore remain an issue mentioned behind closed doors, but never acted on. This needs to change if we are to save the 48 lives that are threatened now by execution in Egypt or the lives of dissidents subjected to a regime of slow death in Egypt's prisons because of the appalling conditions, denial of medication and torture. We need to send a clear message to our government and businesses that human lives have a value that surpasses trade, and that these violations of human rights are not just a distasteful footnote to a profitable trade with a country we consider to be less developed than us, but rather a moral blot on all of us.

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