Egypt’s judicial system spiraling out of control

By Salil Shetty, salilshetty

By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Egypt’s criminal justice system was in the spotlight again after a court agreed to hand down the largest number of death sentences in modern memory. But this was not the work of a rogue judge, as some have suggested. Instead, the rulings were simply the latest in a series of incidents that point to a judicial system that is spiraling out of control.

In the space of a few short months, courts have made ready to sentence hundreds of people to death, jailed leading activists and protestors, including young women, for protesting peacefully, and put journalists on trial for merely doing their job.

The courts have also hammered independent civil society. Last week, a court ruling effectively banned the April 6 Youth Movement, the activist group that spearheaded the mass protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s government in January 2011. And Egypt’s human rights groups may be next in the firing line, with memories of last year’s NGO trial still vivid in the minds of many activists.

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Salil Shetty

A long-term activist on poverty and justice, Salil Shetty leads the movement's worldwide work to end human rights violations and has spearheaded a significant move of Amnesty International's work to the global south.