Reprieve, a US-based legal action non-profit organization, has released a new report on the death penalty which reveals that Egypt remains the fifth largest executioner worldwide.
Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi rose to power in a military coup he headed in 2013, a record number of death sentences have been imposed and carried out.
At least 26 people are currently at risk of imminent execution and at least 17 children have received the death sentence since 2011.
This is despite the fact that Egypt’s child law stipulates that no child who has committed a crime under the age of 18 can be sentenced to death, life imprisonment or forced labor.
In Egypt there are 60,000 political prisoners who are systematically tortured and denied medical care as a punitive measure against their activism.
This systematic torture is often used to obtain a confession which raises huge concerns amid the escalating use of the death penalty.
Since their last report was released in 2019, Egypt’s “mass trial complex” shows no signs of slowing, despite widespread international condemnation.
Since the 2011 Egyptian revolution there have been at least 53 mass trials from which 2,182 people have been sentenced to death.
“Based on the findings of this report, it is now clearer than ever that Egypt is using the death penalty as a tool of repression,” says the author of the report, Jeed Basyouni.
“The death penalty is the ultimate abuse of state power. In Egypt, it is being wielded by a regime which makes use of systematic torture, stifles the right to free assembly and expression, and condemns those who exercise these internationally-protected rights – including children – as terrorists.”
Basyouni called on the international community to restrict its use of the death penalty and comply with international obligations.
“Without reform, the machinery of death will only move quicker in years to come.”
Rights organizations call for ending crackdown on dissent
Sixty-four organizations have called on the Egyptian authorities to end its crackdown on independent organizations and peaceful dissent.
The statement reiterated a call for the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on Egypt at the Human Rights Council.
It follows a joint statement issued by 30 countries in March at the United Nations Human Rights Council criticizing the human rights situation in Egypt.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that it was an unjustifiable “politicization” of human rights and a pretext to cover their own continued rights violations.
“We remain greatly concerned over the arbitrary arrest, detention and other judicial harassment of human rights defenders,” said the statement. “Those held unjustly include NGO directors Mohamed Al-Baqer and Ezzat Ghoniem; human rights researchers Patrick George Zaki and Ibrahim Ezz el-Din; and lawyers Mahienour al-Massry, Haytham Mohamdeen and Hoda Abdelmoniem.”
“The founder and director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) Bahey Eldin Hassan was handed down an outrageous 15-years imprisonment sentence in absentia,” the statement continued.
The organizations also criticized travel bans, asset freezes, the so-called terror law, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture, mass trials, pre-trial detention and the deliberate denial of healthcare which are regularly used as punitive measures against human rights defenders for engaging in UN mechanisms.
It also expressed deep concern over the crackdown on independent journalists and the media amid the blocking of hundreds of websites and the detention of journalists including Israa Abdelfattah and Ismail Iskandarani.
“We share the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding worrying patterns in the Sinai peninsula of forcible displacement, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill-treatment of detainees,” said the statement.
“We note her call to the Egyptian authorities to recognise that, as in all countries facing security challenges and violent extremism, depriving people of their rights will not make the State safer, but more unstable.”
The signatories, which include Amnesty International, Baytna and Committee for Justice, pointed out that authorities have failed to address pervasive sexual and gender-based violence and targeted women’s human rights defenders.