Egypt: Execution of seven people following unfair trials further exposes hollowness of state’s claims to new human rights strategy

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The signatory human rights organizations condemn the execution of seven people in Egypt on 8 and 10 March 2022, following trials in which the defendants were forcibly disappeared, tortured, and denied their fundamental rights, including their right to a lawyer. Despite these grave violations, the Court of Cassation upheld the Criminal Court’s death sentences, bringing the total number of persons in Egypt put to death under political cases to at least 103 since the summer of 2013.

By carrying out the seven executions, Egypt has defied sustained local and international  calls to halt its use of capital punishment, given that capital cases in the country are notoriously lacking in any adherence to standards of due process and fair trial.  Furthermore, the Egyptian government under president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has defied its own National Strategy for Human Rights, issued last September, in which the government purported to reconsider death penalty cases alongside the nature of crimes leading to capital punishment. Instead of halting executions until the cases were reviewed, the Prison Authority executed four Egyptian citizens on 8 March: Abdullah Mohamed Shoukry, Mahmoud Abdel Tawab Morsi, Mahmoud Abdel Hamid Ahmed el-Genidi, and Ahmed Salama Ashmawy. Another three citizens were executed on 10 March: Bilal Ibrahim Sobhy Farhat, Mohamed Hassan Ezz eldin Mohamed Hassan, and Taj eldin Moanis Mohamed Mohamed Hemida. The deaths of these seven men stand as further testament to the hollowness of the state’s human rights strategy, which is thus far nothing more than a ploy by the Sisi government to whitewash its image before the international community.

The four executions on 8 March implemented the sentencing in Case no. 9115 of 2016, known as the “Helwan Microbus case.” The death penalty was upheld by the Court of Cassation on 13 April 2021.  The three executions on 10 March implemented the verdicts in Case no. 3455 of 2014, known as the “Agnad Masr case. The Court of Cassation rejected the defendants’ appeals submitted on 7 May 2019 against their death sentences, which had been issued by the Criminal Court in December 2017.

Both cases were pervasively marred by violations of fair trial guarantees. During the period of enforced disappearance following the defendants’ arrests, confessions were coerced by torture inside National Security headquarters in addition to regular abuse and ill-treatment in prison. The Public Prosecution ignored these facts while conducting its investigation in the absence of the defendants’ lawyers. Defense lawyers proved the occurrence of the violations during trial; nevertheless, both the criminal and cassation courts choose to disregard the evidence, instead issuing and upholding death sentences against the seven men.

Egypt’s human strategy claims to support the right to life by reviewing the most serious crimes carrying the death penalty, in accordance with international and regional human rights conventions and treaties ratified by the government. The strategy alleges to strengthen guarantees of a fair and equitable trial, and to adhere to the humane treatment of detainees as stipulated by Egypt’s constitution – including by combating torture in all its forms, investigating torture-related allegations, and protecting the rights of victims under all circumstances.  The recent executions following violation-marred trials contradict all of the government’s claims to adopt a new human rights approach, and instead  confirm  the complete absence of political will to address the country’s abysmal human rights situation.

The undersigned human rights organizations affirm their rejection of Egypt’s use of capital punishment, given that it is carried out following fundamentally flawed and unfair trials that deny Egyptian citizens their most fundamental human right: their right to life. The undersigned are alarmed by the Egyptian authorities’ continued use of the death penalty in defiance of the repeated calls and recommendations of the international community. We reaffirm the call for an immediate moratorium on capital punishment in Egypt and a review of all cases carrying the penalty of death, alongside accessibility to official information on capital punishment cases.

Signatory organizations:

  1. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  2. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  3. Foundation for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  4. Nadeem Center
  5. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  6. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  7. Committee for Justice
  8. Freedom Initiative

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