Responding to the news that 17 people accused of carrying out three deadly church bombings in 2017 as well as attacks against security forces have been sentenced to death by a military court in Alexandria today, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:
“There can be no justification for the utterly reprehensible attacks which targeted worshippers in Coptic Christian churches across Egypt in 2017. There is no doubt that the perpetrators of these horrific attacks should be held accountable for their crimes. But handing out a mass death sentence after an unfair military trial is not justice and will not deter further sectarian attacks.
“Egypt has a shocking track record of unlawfully trying civilians in its notorious military courts and sentencing scores to death after grossly unfair mass trials, often based on ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. Those accused of involvement in these heinous crimes must be retried in a civilian court in proceedings that comply with international human rights law and fair trial standards.”
Military trials are inherently unfair because all personnel in military courts, from judges to prosecutors, are serving members of the military who report to the Minister of Defense and do not have the necessary training on rule of law or fair trial standards.
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.