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Egypt must halt executions, say UN human rights experts

GENEVA (26 January 2018) – A group of UN human rights experts* has called on Egypt to halt all pending executions following repeated allegations of unfair trials.

“We are particularly concerned by an apparently continuing pattern of death sentences handed out on the basis of evidence obtained through torture or ill treatment, often during a period of enforced disappearance,” the experts said in a joint statement.  

“We have raised multiple specific cases with the Egyptian authorities and continue to receive more. In the light of these persistent serious allegations, we urge the Government to halt all pending executions.

“The authorities should ensure that all death sentences are reviewed and, where convictions were based on unfair trials, ensure that individuals have retrials during which Egypt’s human rights obligations are fully respected.”

The experts stressed that capital punishment may only be carried out for the most serious crimes and after a legal process which has included all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial.

The death penalty violates human dignity, they added, and may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“We also encourage the Egyptian authorities to consider a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolition,” the group said.

In June 2017, four UN experts called on Egypt to halt the executions of six men sentenced to death after unfair trials. They remain at risk of execution.

The experts have written to the Egyptian Government to seek clarification on this matter.

ENDS

The UN experts: Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, current Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention;Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Bernard Duhaime, current Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Ms. Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Egypt

For more information and media requests please contact:  Rhiannon Painter (+ 41 22 917 9143 / rpainter@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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