06 February 2018 :
Liz Throssell, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released the following statement: “We are deeply shocked that 20 people are reported to have been executed in Egypt since last week.
On 2 January, five men who had been sentenced to death by an Egyptian military court were hanged in Alexandria. Four of them had been convicted in relation to an explosion near a stadium in the city of Kafr al-Sheikh on 15 April 2015 that killed three military recruits and injured two others.
We understand the defendants were tried by military judges on the basis of legislation that refers cases of destruction of public property to military courts and in view of the victims being from the Egyptian Military Academy.
On 26 December, 15 men convicted on terrorism charges were reportedly executed. They had been found guilty by a military court of killing several soldiers in Sinai in 2013.
Civilians should only be tried in military or special courts in exceptional cases. In addition, it is important that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that such trials take place under conditions which genuinely afford the full guarantees stipulated in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Egypt is a State party. These include having a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and that everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
We are seriously concerned that in all these cases, due process and fair trial guarantees do not appear to have been followed as military courts typically deny defendants’ rights accorded by civilian courts. In cases of capital punishment, trials must meet the highest standards of fairness and due process. Reports also indicated that the prisoners who were executed may have been subjected to initial enforced disappearance and torture before being tried.
Despite the security challenges facing Egypt - in particular in Sinai - executions should not be used as a means to combat terrorism.
We call on the Egyptian authorities to reconsider the use of death penalty cases in accordance with their international human rights obligations and to take all
necessary measures to ensure that violations of due process and fair trial are not repeated.”