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January 26, 2018 11:34 am

UN Experts Call for Egypt to Halt Executions

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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People walk by a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, Jan. 22, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh.

Egypt must stop executions until it has reviewed all death sentences and retried convictions found to rest on unfair trials, five independent UN human rights experts said on Friday.

Egypt’s mission to the UN in Geneva did not immediately comment on the appeal.

“We have raised multiple specific cases with the Egyptian authorities and continue to receive more. In the light of these persistent serious allegations, we urge the Government to halt all pending executions,” the experts said in a statement.

“The authorities should ensure that all death sentences are reviewed and, where convictions were based on unfair trials, ensure that individuals have retrials during which Egypt’s human rights obligations are fully respected.”

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An Islamic State insurgency in North Sinai has expanded to include civilian targets in the past year. Egypt this month renewed its state of emergency for three more months, broadening the power of authorities to crack down on what it calls enemies of the state.

The five experts who issued the statement, special rapporteurs reporting to the UN Human Rights Council, said capital punishment should be used only for the most serious crimes and after a legal process with all legal safeguards.

The experts were José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Agnes Callamard, Bernard Duhaime, Nils Melzer, and Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, who report to the Council on arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and the protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

“We are particularly concerned by an apparently continuing pattern of death sentences handed out on the basis of evidence obtained through torture or ill treatment, often during a period of enforced disappearance,” they said.

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