Egypt—Death Penalty—African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights—March 2019

In March 2019, The Advocates for Human Rights, in partnership with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty submitted a report to the 64th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights concerning its 4th Periodic Report on the Implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Egypt. The report is primarily concerned with Egypt’s use of the death penalty, systemic use of torture, and ineffective accountability mechanisms.

The report outlines Egypt’s excessive use of the death penalty. Egypt employs the death penalty for non-fatal crimes and does so for defendants under the age of 18. The definition of “terrorism” is expansive, allowing the government to execute non-violent protesters. These factors and more contribute to Egypt’s rapid pace of executions. The report also highlights Egypt’s systematic use of torture. Law enforcement uses torture to extract forced confessions in capital cases. The government often keeps the bodies of capital defendants from families to hide signs of torture and abuse. Convicted people that are not executed are subject to inhumane conditions of detention such as lack of access to food, water, sanitation and basic amenities. The justice system does not hold torturers accountable, allowing a culture of impunity to fester and metastasize in Egyptian prisons. The Cairo criminal court conducted a mass trial following the 2013 coup, and Military and Security courts lack even the most basic safeguards of due process.

This stakeholder report suggests the following recommendations for the Government of Egypt:

  • Abolish the death penalty and replace it with a sentence that is fair, proportionate, and in compliance with international human rights standards.
  • Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
  • Prohibit the introduction of evidence obtained under duress, and issue guidelines on the steps judges must take when a defendant alleges torture, including investigating all credible allegations and taking immediate steps to protect individuals alleging torture or ill-treatment from retaliation.
  • Commute all death sentences resulting from mass trials.
  • End the use of mass trials and nullify all convictions arising out of mass trials.
  • Ensure that no person is tried as an adult for a crime committed when under the age of 18.
  • Conduct credible, independent, and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture, prioritizing allegations raised by persons who have been sentenced to death and by persons who are charged with crimes that are subject to the death penalty.
  • Bar military courts from trying civilians, restrict the jurisdiction of the military courts to offences of an exclusively military nature, and ensure that military and state security courts comply with the fair trial standards set forth in Article 14 of the ICCPR.
  • Ensure that detention conditions comply with the Nelson Mandela Rules.