Rise in executions reveals 'human rights crisis' in Egypt

Rise in Egypt executions reveals 'depth of human rights crisis': Amnesty
2 min read
01 December, 2020
Egypt has embarked on an execution spree in recent months, putting scores of people to death.
At least 15 of those sentenced to death were in relation to political violence. [Getty]
Egypt's human rights violations drastically increased in October and November, culminating in at least 57 executions - double the number of those carried out in 2019 - Amnesty International reported on Wednesday.

At least 15 of those sentenced to death were in relation to cases of "political violence" following "unfair trials marred by forced 'confessions'... including torture and enforced disappearances", the human rights organisation said.

The exact numbers of these are likely to be more, due to a lack in transparency from Egyptian authorities. Pro-government media have reported at least 91 executions since October, citing anonymous officials.

"The Egyptian authorities have embarked on a horrifying execution spree in recent months, putting scores of people to death, in some cases following grossly unfair mass trials," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

"These executions are particularly appalling given the well documented and systematic breaches of fair trial rights in Egypt, with courts often relying on torture-tainted 'confessions'.

"Not only are the Egyptian authorities trampling on the right to life in shocking disregard for their obligations under international law, but they are also punishing the brave human rights defenders at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights documenting and speaking out these violations."

This follows a sweeping crackdown on human rights organisations, such as the arrests of staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), who were interrogated about their criminal justice activities, including work published in November on the alarming rise in executions.

Several European countries, the US and UN have condemned the detention of the EIPR members.

"We call on the Egyptian authorities to commute all death sentences, and to quash convictions and order fair retrials without recourse to the death penalty for Wael Tawadros and anyone else convicted after unfair trials," said Philip Luther.

"We also urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies, to publicly call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately halt executions, and for members of the UN Human Rights Council to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Egypt."

Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez on Saturday dismissed the international criticism, saying in a statement that the three staffers were detained on charges that include "joining a terror group" and "spreading false news".

According to rights groups there are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt.

These include secular activists, journalists, lawyers, academics and Islamists arrested in an ongoing, sweeping crackdown on dissent under autocratic President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

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