'Chilling rise' of executions in Egypt, Amnesty warns

'Chilling rise' of executions in Egypt, Amnesty warns
Amnesty International has noted an alarming increase in executions in Egypt, and it has prompted calls for an end to the death penalty.
2 min read
04 December, 2020
Egypt has been the topic of criticism for years because of its executions [Getty]

At least 57 men and women have been executed in the months of October and November alone in Egypt, nearly double the recorded 32 people executed throughout 2019, Amnesty International revealed.

This comes as Egypt cracks down on dissenting voices and political opponents, with at least 15 people sentenced to death in cases relating to political violence following "unfair trials marred by forced 'confessions'... including torture and enforced disappearances", the rights watchdog's report said.

"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."

Egyptian authorities have also clamped down on human rights organisations working against the death penalty. In November, staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) were arrested and interrogated.

On 4 October, 10 men were executed after being convicted and sentenced to death, in the case known as "Agnad Masr," involving violent attacks on officials and public property.

The defendants told Supreme State Security Prosecutors that they had been subjected to enforced disappearances and torture, however there was no investigation into these complaints.

One of the men executed, Gamal Zaki, had appeared in a video "confession" broadcast on several media outlets before the trial was concluded, severely undermining his right to fair trial, including his right not to incriminate himself and his right to the presumption of innocence.

"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.

"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,” said Philip Luther.

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