WORLD CITIZENS, STRONGLY OPPOSED TO THE DEATH PENALTY, QUESTION THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT’S SENTENCING TO DEATH 528 PEOPLE IN A SHORT MASS TRIAL
In a March 26, 2014 message to the Acting President of Egypt and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. René Wadlow, President of the Association of World Citizens (AWC), stated that the mass trial of Muslim Brotherhood members accused of the murder of a police officer and terrorist acts during the August 2013 protests was an insult to the Spirit of Justice and a violation of the rule of law.
The AWC has repeatedly called upon governments to declare a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty – a penalty that extensive research has shown has little or no impact on the level of violent crime and too often opens the door to judicial errors and injustice.
The speed of the two-day trial during which defense lawyers were not able to develop their arguments is unprecedented and points to the political motivations of the current military-influenced Government.
There is a possibility to appeal the verdict, but the timing and modalities are unclear. There are some 1,200 Muslim Brotherhood supporters awaiting trial, and this trial in the Minya Criminal Count does not indicate a rule of law but rather of revenge and a desire to inspire fear of possible Government action.
The verdict now goes to Egypt’s Grand Mufti, a religious authority, for approval or rejection. It is not clear on what basis religious authorities review and make decisions on what are essentially secular trials. In practice, death sentences in Egypt are often handed down, but few have been carried out in recent years. The aims of the trials and the sentences are political: to show that death is a real possibility if one “steps out of line”.
Such a misuse of the court system undermines trust in the legal order and is in violation of the spirit and provisions of human rights law.
The AWC is devoted to the universal application of human rights law which includes fair trials and the right to adequate defense. Therefore, the AWC calls upon the Government of Egypt to revise this court case by a speedy appeal procedure and to see that the subsequent trials concerning Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi are carried out in conformity with established international norms.