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Egypt: “Evidence obtained through torture, inadmissible in any court and in all circumstances” – UN expert

GENEVA (12 September 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, Juan E. Méndez, expressed his deep concern about the continuing use of so called state security courts in Egypt in the case of three men sentenced to death on terrorism charges based on their confessions, which were allegedly obtained through torture.

“A State’s obligation to ensure that any statement made as a result of torture should not be used as evidence in any proceedings, must apply in all circumstances, including in the context of military courts,” said Mr. Méndez, recalling that the 2006 Supreme State Security Emergency Court trial was allegedly characterized by severe irregularities with regard to procedural safeguards and fair trial guarantees.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights condemned in February 2011 the Supreme State Security Emergency Court trial, conviction and death sentences imposed on the three men as having violated the prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of the African Charter and failing to ensure that evidence obtained through torture was not admitted in judicial proceedings.

For the Special Rapporteur, the fact that the African Commission found the trial to be based on evidence obtained under duress “shows the inability and unwillingness of a state security court to address complaints of torture with the seriousness they deserve.”

“The Egyptian authorities should proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of the allegations of torture claimed by the three defendants,” said Mr. Méndez, urging the Government to take all necessary measures to discontinue the trial of the three individuals before the security court due to their inability to exclude evidence alleged to have been obtained by torture.

“It is encouraging that Egypt complied with the request of the African Commission not to carry out the sentences pending their full examination of the cases,” the human rights expert said, “but it is of deep concern that the cases have nevertheless been resubmitted to a different panel of the same state security court, the hearing of which is scheduled to take place on 12 September 2012.”

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Egypt: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/EGIndex.aspx

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Shushan Khachyan (+41 22 917 9325 / sr-torture@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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