European Parliament, local rights organizations call for a ‘moratorium’ on Egypt’s death penalty
Courtesy: Wikimedia commons

Members of the European Parliament called for a “moratorium on the death penalty [in Egypt], with a view to its abolition” in a Thursday press release, which was later echoed by a joint statement issued by local rights organizations.

In their statement, members of the European Parliament also expressed “serious concern” at the Egyptian court system’s practice of mass trials and urged authorities to “halt all planned executions and review all pending death sentences and Egypt’s criminal codes to ensure that fair trial standards are respected.”

In the past two months alone, Egyptian authorities carried out 26 executions, and issued 29 other individuals death sentences, according to a joint statement signed by a number of prominent rights organizations, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, Al-Nadeem Center and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), among others.

In addition to condemning the recent hike in executions issued and carried out in Egypt, the joint statement also condemned “the rising frequency of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, and torture in detention facilities in Egypt,” stating that these trends reflect “an alarming deterioration in the country’s human rights situation.”

The European Parliament’s statement is the latest in a series of international condemnations of the recent spate of executions in Egypt.

In a late January statement, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner called on Egyptian authorities to halt executions in light of persistent allegations of unfair trials. “We are particularly concerned by an apparent continuing pattern of death sentences handed out on the basis of evidence obtained through torture or ill treatment, often during a period of forced disappearance,” the statement read.

The statement was signed by five UN experts in the fields of arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions.

Beyond the recent spike in death sentences and executions, local and international pressure seeks to address Egyptian authorities’ use of the death penalty more generally. An Amnesty International report published in April 2017 ranked Egypt as the country with the sixth highest number of executions in 2016. According to the report, Egypt carried out 44 executions in 2016, compared to 22 in 2015 and 5 in 2009. The first five countries ahead of Egypt in this ranking are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

The report also ranks Egypt fourth, after Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in capital punishment verdicts in the same year. The pace of executions in Egypt has accelerated since 2014.


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