Egypt: Mandatory death penalty and systematic use of torture, an alarming situation

Read the review of Egypt in Arabic

During its 78th session on 14 and 15 November 2023, the CAT examined Egypt’s fifth periodic report. The country’s rapporteurs were Mr. Erdogan Iscan and Mr. Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov. It had been 20 years since Egypt had been reviewed by the Committee.

The delegation was led by Mr. Khaled Aly El Bakly, Assistant Foreign Minister for Human rights and Humanitarian and Social affairs of Egypt, and Head of the Technical Secretariat of the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights.

Main issues discussed:

The experts expressed deep concern about the continued use of the death penalty, as a mandatory sentence for certain crimes. Reports suggest that such sentences are prevalently handed down under the counter-terrorism legislation. In relation to the anti-terrorism legislation, the Committee raised concern about the vague and overly broad definition of terrorism, including “harming national unity” and “disturbing the public order”, and that they have reportedly been used to repress human rights defenders and oppositions parties’ freedom of expression and work.

The experts raised the widespread use of arbitrary if not incommunicado arrest and detention without judicial oversight and fundamental legal safeguards, as well as the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment by State agents. The experts were also concerned about the numerous allegations of enforced disappearances and the unavailability of related official data.

The Committee raised concerned about the overcrowding and poor material conditions in prisons, especially in Badr Rehabilitation and Correctional Center. It also raised the serious allegations of ill-treatment and numerous deaths and suicide attempts, and the lack of transparent monitoring in prisons.

The CAT’s recommendations are available here.

Follow-up recommendations:

Egypt should provide information by 24 November 2024 on the implementation of recommendations regarding:

  • A better-defined framework of its anti-terrorism legislation
  • A clarification of the state of emergency restrictions and non-derogable rights including the prohibition of torture
  • The improvement of the conditions of detention and the reduction of overcrowding, through the use of alternatives to detention
  • The declining use of the death penalty sentence and the abolition of its mandatory use

Watch part one and part two of the dialogue between the Egyptian Delegation and the CAT.

Read our alternative report submitted with a coalition of Egyptian NGOs to the CAT.

Read the Blog post written by Alejandra Vicente, Head of Law at REDRESS entitled : « Calling it what it is: Torture in Egypt as a crime against humanity »

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