International lawyers hired by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) filed an urgent complaint with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) requesting an immediate intervention to suspend the implementation of the death sentences against political dissidents passed by Egyptian courts.
"The Egyptian authorities have completely ignored previous ACHPR’s order to suspend the death penalty by failing to respect the defendants’ right to fair trials under the safeguards provided for in the African Charter and other international covenants," the lawyers said.
The British law firm ITN said in a statement today that "the complaint concerns the death sentences of 20 people in five separate cases, which have now been ratified by the Egyptian courts, which means that there is no room for appeal afterwards, and 16 of those sentenced to death face impending execution."
The number of Egyptians whose cases have been referred the Mufti, as a prelude to be sentenced to death, has risen to 1964 in various political cases since the coup of July 2013, with 931 already sentenced to death.
In 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 people to death after mass trials lasting less than two days, with similar procedural irregularities on a large scale. At that time, the FJP filed a request with the ACHPR to intervene. The Commission responded and directed the Egyptian authorities to suspend those death sentences.
The complaint, submitted to the ACHPR last week, states that "the verdicts were issued after legal proceedings that did not meet international standards or Egyptian law. The complaint lists a number of serious irregularities in the evidence collection and procedures taken, including extracting confessions under torture and denying defendants the right to communicate with their lawyers."
It points out that witness testimonies confirm that the accused were present at different locations from the crime scene and the testimonies were not taken into account. These include evidence that one of the defendants was in fact under arrest when the alleged bomb attack attributed to him have occurred.
The compliant was filed on behalf of the FJP by leading human rights lawyers from the British law firm ITN, along with renowned international lawyer Rodney Dickson.