Morsi’s Death Sentence: Manipulating Justice to Eradicate Dissent

Egypt, Fair Trial, Independence of the Judiciary, Justice and the Rule of Law, Morsi, Press Release, Shrinking Space for Civil Society

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The brazen death sentences handed down to Egypt’s ousted president and more than 100 others cast a bleak shadow on Egypt’s judiciary and its crucial role in the transition to democracy.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) strongly condemns the death sentences levelled against former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and about a hundred others in the same case. The verdict, pronounced on 16 May, is but the latest example illustrating both the increasing instrumentalisation of justice to eradicate any dissent and the repressive and draconian measures that the Egyptian authorities have taken since the overthrow of the former president in 2013.

The Network reiterates its principled opposition to capital punishment and to any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, regardless of the circumstances, crime or identity of the accused. The Network also reminds the Egyptian authorities that legal proceedings can take place only following investigations by the defence and the prosecution. A verdict must be pronounced by an independent and impartial court that fully respects human rights, conditions that have never been met in these cases.

In their efforts to address the alarming ongoing erosion of the rule of law and people’s confidence in Egypt’s justice system, a group of individuals and organisations, including EMHRN, has reached out to Egyptian judges in a letter calling on them to join forces to restore national and international confidence in the Egyptian judiciary. Left unaddressed, the blatant manipulation of justice for political ends is likely to aggravate political and social tensions as well as the security situation in Egypt and the region.

The Network also calls on the EU to urgently address the situation with the authorities of its southern neighbour. The EU-Egypt dialogue on cooperation was resumed in February 2015 in defiance of the Foreign Affairs Council conclusion of August 2013 stipulating that the “EU will closely follow the developments in Egypt and will readjust accordingly its cooperation”. In line with this and its own values and principles, the EU should clearly express its rejection of the use of justice to stifle dissent and the application of death penalty. It should also call for an end to the judicial harassment of human rights defenders and the restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.

If Egyptian authorities fail to address the situation, the EU should halt its cooperation with the country.

The Network calls on the Egyptian authorities to urgently:

  • Put an end to the instrumentalisation of the judiciary for political purposes;
  • Retry all political prisoners in impartial and independent civil courts guaranteeing standards of a fair trial;
  • Establish a moratorium on the death penalty.

Press contact: Samer Abu Rass +32 2 503 19 73