Rights Group: Execution of Arab Sharkas Unjustified Murder
The Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms (EORF) and a solidarity group, as well as a representative of the defense team for ‘Arab Sharkas’ detainees stressed that the Egyptian authorities’ execution of the 7 young defendants was murder based on unjust death sentences that had nothing to do with the law or the Constitution.
"The coup authorities’ continued trampling of all rights and legal and constitutional guarantees reduces the security apparatus to armed militias doing whatever they wish by sheer military force in the face of helpless civilians."
Human rights activist and lawyer Ahmed Mefreh, one of the representatives of the defense team, together with EORF and a solidarity group, handed an urgent complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), demanding a halt to the implementation of the death sentence by a military court in north Cairo against defendants in the Arab Sharkas case.
Subsequently, the ACHPR issued a decision on April 16, 2015 demanding the Egyptian government, represented by Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, must stop the implementation of the death sentence against civilians convicted in a military court that did not have the minimum fair trial guarantees.
In a letter from ACHPR head Kayitesi Zainabo Sylvie addressed to Al-Sisi, he requested precautionary measures with regard to the Arab Sharkas case, especially human rights violations in Egypt as reported by ACHPR at a July 2014 special session, where it called on the Egyptian government to adhere to basic standards of fair trial, to halt the death penalty and to commit to its obligations under international human rights law.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has confirmed that the death penalty, at the end of a trial that did not respect the provisions of the International Covenant, and which could not be redressed through appeal, constitutes a violation of the right to life.
The Human Rights Committee made it clear that the ban on arbitrarily depriving a person of his life, in Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant, requires that the law imposes strict control over the situations in which a State may deprive a person of his life.
The execution of the Arab Sharkas defendants was a blatant violation of their right to halt implementation of the death penalty during the consideration of an appeal or clemency petition, and until they have exhausted all appeal rights guaranteed to them, in addition to petitions for a pardon or commutation of sentence, or until the deadline to request such appeals expires, including appeals submitted to international bodies.
In this case, an appeal was being considered by ACHPR. According to Article 6 (4) of the International Covenant: "Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence, and may be granted amnesty or pardon or commutation of the death penalty in all cases".
EORF stresses that the Arab Sharkas case, and the violations of the defendants’ right, is a significant pointer as to how the coup authorities will deal with more than 3,000 civilians on trial before military courts under an unjust law.
EORF said that civilians referred to the military judiciary are used by the coup authorities for leverage whenever needed, which shows how judicial rulings have become a tool used by the military junta and its authorities to further political agendas against its opponents.
Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms
Cairo: Sunday – May 18, 2015