Egypt: judiciary must reject mass death-penalty trials

The ICJ condemns yesterday’s decision of the Giza Felonies Court to confirm the death sentences of 183 individuals that had been simultaneously imposed in one mass trial.

The charges include murder, mutilation and attempted murder and relate to an attack on a police station in Kerdasa that took place in August 2013.

According to the ICJ, the trial has involved a litany of violations of fair trial rights, including denying many of the accused the right to legal counsel, denying the right to a public hearing, refusing to allow defence witnesses to testify, prohibiting the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses by defence counsel, and failing to produce credible evidence as to the individual guilt of each accused.

“Once again, Egypt’s judiciary has abdicated its fundamental responsibility to uphold the rule of law and human rights, instead resorting to unfair mass trials and death sentences as a technique to suppress dissent and to crack down on critics of the military and Government,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ MENA Programme.

“Egypt’s judiciary must act independently, impartially, with integrity and as a check against the Executive’s arbitrary powers and policies, not as a tool to implement them,” he added.

The imposition of death sentences following unfair mass trials constitutes a gross violation of Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law, including those relating to the right to life, the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and fair trial rights.

The ICJ opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances as a violation of the right to life and a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly, by a large majority, called for a moratorium on its use.

Even those states that retain the death penalty have acknowledged that any imposition of the death penalty through a process that fails to meet the most stringent fair trial standards, inherently violates the right to life.


Said Benarbia, ICJ Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: 41 22 979 38 17, e: said.benarbia(a)

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