A group of UN human rights experts have warned the Government of Egypt to halt the executions of six men sentenced to death after trials which they said did not meet international standards of fairness.
The experts expressed deep concern that the men had been convicted on the basis of forced confessions that were later retracted.
“To proceed with the executions of the six men on the basis of these flawed trials would violate international human rights law and constitute arbitrary executions,” noted the experts on summary executions, torture, arbitrary detention and countering-terrorism.
The death sentences were upheld on 7 June by Egypt’s highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation. The six men – Basem Mohsen Elkhorieby, Khaled Askar, Mahmoud Mamhouh Wahba, Ibrahim Yahia Azab, Abd Elrahman Attia and Ahmed al-Waleed al-Shal – were convicted in 2015 of terrorism-related charges, in particular in connection with the killing of a police officer in 2014.
According to reports, all the six men have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment to force them to confess, before being transferred to prison where they were held in inhumane conditions. Three of the men were made to confess on national TV.
“It is extremely worrying that while all six men recanted their forced confessions in court and indicated that they had been obtained under torture, these were still used as the basis for their convictions,” said the experts. “This is in clear violation of Article 1 of the Convention against Torture, to which Egypt is a party.”
The experts noted that supporting evidence used against the men, as well as testimonies from state security members, also showed major inconsistencies. For example, witness statements did not match video footage of the alleged crime scene.
“Capital punishment may only be carried out after a legal process that gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial,” they stressed.
“The only thing that distinguishes capital punishment – as possibly permitted under international law – from arbitrary execution is full respect for stringent due process guarantees.
“The Government must halt these executions and ensure a retrial in compliance with international law and standards, in particular ensuring that they receive a fair trial and that due process guarantees are met.”
The experts have sought clarifications from the Egyptian authorities on the issues in question.
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