The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights deplores the recent execution in Egypt of 20 men on alleged terrorist-related charges.
Five men were hanged in Alexandria on January 2. One week earlier, on December 26, 15 men reportedly were hanged in two prisons in the restive Sinai region. All were tried in military courts and found guilty of acts of terrorism.
U.N. human rights spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, says her office is deeply shocked by these executions. She says it is unlikely these men received a fair trial as military courts typically deny defendants’ rights accorded in civilian courts.
“In cases of capital punishment, trials must meet the highest standards of fairness and due process. Reports also indicate 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,” Throssell said.
Four of the men executed in Alexandria were convicted in relation to an explosion near a stadium in 2015 that killed three military recruits and injured two others. The 15 men hanged on December 26 were found guilty by a military court of killing several soldiers in Sinai in 2013.
Throssell says civilians should be tried in military or special courts only in exceptional cases. Under these circumstances, she says defendants must receive a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. She says everyone charged with a criminal offense must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
She adds these guarantees appear to have been denied to the 20 men recently executed by Egyptian authorities.