• Campagnes

Egypt: Death penalty / legal concern

, N° d'index: MDE 12/025/1996

Anwar Hamed 'Abbas, Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Khalil and 16 others, reportedly including three juvenils: On 30 September 1996, the above were sentenced to death in absentia by the (Emergency) State Security Court in Cairo in a case involving 18 alleged members of the banned armed Islamist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya.

EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 12/25/96
UA 232/96 Death Penalty / Legal concern 3 October 1996
EGYPTAnwar Hamed 'Abbas
Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Khalil
and 16 others, reportedly including three juveniles
On 30 September 1996 Anwar Hamed 'Abbas and Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Khalil
were sentenced to death in absentia by the (Emergency) State Security Court
in Cairo in a case involving 18 alleged members of the banned armed Islamist
group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group). The court postponed sentencing
on the remaining 16 defendants, one of whom is also still on the run, until
31 October. Amnesty International is gravely concerned that they may also
be sentenced to death.
Three of those awaiting sentencing are reportedly juveniles. Death sentences
against juveniles violate the UN safeguards guaranteeing protection of the
rights of those facing the death penalty (resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984)
which state that: "persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission
of the crime shall not be sentenced to death."
The 18 defendants were accused of involvement in a series of attacks in southern
Egypt in 1993 which resulted in the deaths of a number of members of the security
forces and civilians, membership of a banned organization and the possession
of arms.
The death sentences against Anwar Hamed 'Abbas and Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad
Khalil have been submitted to the Mufti, the highest religious authority in
the country, for approval. This is a routine measure, as he approves the vast
majority of them. They are then passed on to the President of the Republic
or his nominee for ratification.
There is no right to appeal against sentences issued by (Emergency) Supreme
State Security Courts. This violates international standards for fair trial,
as guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, to which Egypt is a state party, which guarantees that everyone who
is convicted shall have the right to have their conviction and sentence reviewed
by a higher tribunal. The United Nations Economic and Social Council has urged
that these rights be respected in all cases involving the death penalty.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The death penalty has been extensively used in Egypt in the last few years.
So far this year Amnesty International has recorded 34 death sentences passed
by military, criminal and (Emergency) State Security courts. 13 people, seven
of whom were sentenced to death in previous years, were executed during the
same period. Military courts have passed 70 death sentences since October
1992 when President Hosni Mubarak began issuing special decrees referring
civilians to be tried by such courts. To date, 54 executions have been carried
out.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Arabic, English, French or your own language:
- expressing concern that Anwar Hamed 'Abbas and Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad
Khalil have been sentenced to death and urging President Mubarak to use his
constitutional powers to grant clemency and commute these and other pending
death sentences;
2
- urging that the death penalty not be imposed on the remaining 16 defendants
involved in the case when they are sentenced on 31 October;
- expressing concern at reports that three of those awaiting sentencing are
juveniles, pointing out that death sentences against juveniles violate the
UN safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death
penalty;
if possible also:
- express concern at the extensive use of the death penalty in Egypt, and
explaining your opposition to the death penalty as a violation of the right
to life and the most extreme form of cruel and inhuman punishment;
- stressing that you do not in any way condone the crimes such as those of
which Anwar Hamed 'Abbas and Ahmad 'Abd al-Wahhab Ahmad Khalil were convicted,
and that you recognize the right of states to bring criminals to justice;
however, stress that there is no evidence that the death penalty is an effective
deterrent to such crimes;
- drawing attention to world trends to abolish or reduce the use of the death
penalty, in accordance with Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights.
APPEALS TO:
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt
Telegrams: President Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt
Telexes: 93794 WAZRA UN
Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES TO:
Ms Nayla Gabr
The Human Rights Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Corniche al-Nil, Cairo, Egypt
Faxes: +20 2 574 7839
Dr Fathi Sorour
Speaker
The People's Assembly
Magles al-Sha'ab Street, Cairo, Egypt
and to diplomatic representatives of Egypt accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 October 1996.

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