Egyptian legislation provides for at least 78 articles authorizing the use of the death penalty as a punishment for 104 crimes, in a time where the world is heading towards abolishing the death penalty.
Egyptian courts witnessed a surge in mass executions after July 2013, in response to increasing violence that followed the overthrow of former President Mursi. In the period between 2013 and 2018, Egyptian civil and military courts issued hundreds of death sentences for defendants under criminal and political cases, bringing the total number to at least 2532 judicial rulings. The Egyptian authorities already proceeded in executing some of those death sentences bringing the total number of executions to at least 165 people during the given period.
One case saw 75 defendants sentenced to death in mass in a ruling that was strongly condemned by international bodies such as the European Parliament and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which called on the Egyptian government to stop issuing these rulings and ensure that defendants’ rights to fair trial are not violated. 2018 closed with the Egyptian authorities’ implementation of 32 death sentences issued on political grounds by civil or military courts in nine cases since July 2013. This is in addition to 40 of at least 65 people awaiting execution on death row at any given time. Meanwhile dozens await final rulings in over 20 cases pending before the Civil Court of Cassation and the Military Appeals Court.
Most prominent patterns of violations in capital cases between July 2013 and December 2018 include Litigation before exceptional courts, enforced disappearances, physical and psychological torture, and basing court decisions on anonymous sources.
Based on the above, we call upon the Egyptian authorities to:
- Abide by its international and regional commitments to protect human rights.
- Respond immediately and unconditionally to all recommendations presented by the international community towards establishing a moratorium on the death penalty.
- Suspend all execution of death sentences, especially in military cases, where there is no scope for a fair trial guarantees, besides the exceptional and politicized terrorism panels, particularly those in which sentences have been issued since July 2013, as well as criminal panels.
- Submit proposals to amend all laws that provide for the death penalty. In particular resolution no.136 of 2014, amendments to the Penal code and the Criminal code procedures, which took away from the rights of the defendants to a fair trial. In parallel, Egyptian judicial authorities should open independent investigations with the authorities responsible for the violations suffered by the defendants during the course of litigation.
- Respect the right to an equitable hearing of cases, which includes all procedures and guarantees for a fair trial, in accordance with international and African standards.
- Respect and protect the right of everyone to access information related to issued death sentences including all relevant information or documents, and to be aware of the importance of the availability of information regarding the death penalty to the general public. Also, Egypt should commit to the not executing a death penalty in secret, as confidentiality with regards to people who are executed constitutes a violation of human rights standards.