World Bulletin / News Desk
A group of eight United Nations (UN) human rights experts on Monday urged the Egyptian authorities to quash the 528 death sentences announced in Egypt last week and give the defendants new and fair trials, so as to ensure respect of international human rights law.
On 24 March, 528 individuals were sentenced to death in Egypt on charges related to the events leading to the ousting of the government of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. At least 600 more individuals are currently under trial for similar charges.
"We are appalled by the lack of clarity of the charges under which each individual was sentenced to death. Reports that some of them received capital punishment for charges of unlawful gathering, or any other offence not involving murder, indicate a clear violation of international law," the experts said.
They also expressed deep concern about numerous procedural irregularities reported during the recent proceedings, such as limited access to lawyers, trials in absentia, or the mass imposition of the death sentences. "The conduct of trials in such conditions is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party," they said.
"The imposition of the sentence of death on 528 defendants, after a two-day trial that was rife of procedural irregularities, and on unclear or sometimes insignificant charges makes a mockery of justice," added the experts. "There is a clear need for a serious and comprehensive reform in any legal system that allows for such developments to occur."
They warned that "In absence of fair trial and due process guarantees and respect of Egypt’s international obligations, all verdicts, but particularly those which impose the death penalty, are likely to undermine any prospects for reconciliation within the Egyptian society."
"We will closely follow the situation, including all trials, and remind the Egyptian authorities how crucial it is that the future of the Egyptian society be based on dialogue, justice, and respect of human rights," the UN experts noted.Last Mod: 01 Nisan 2014, 11:12