Egypt’s president to change law to permit speedy executions

Cairo, Egypt (Reprieve) – Egypt’s President, General Abdel-Fattah al Sisi, has said he wants to change the law to allow for quicker executions in the country.

In remarks at the funeral of Egypt’s Attorney-General Hisham Barakat, who died after a car bomb attack on Monday, Sisi is reported to have said: “The arm of justice is chained by the law. We’re not going to wait for this. We’re going to amend the law to allow us to implement justice as soon as possible”. He added: “If there is a death sentence, a death sentence shall be enforced.”

The decision to expedite executions for those sentenced to death raises fears for scores of people arrested in the military’s 2013 breakup of protests. Many face possible death sentences in mass trials that fail to meet international standards; including juveniles such as Irish teenager Ibrahim Halawa, who is being tried as an adult alongside 493 other people. Ibrahim, a student from Dublin, was 17 and visiting family in Cairo when he was arrested in August 2013. Now 19, he has reported torture and mistreatment throughout his two years of pre-trial detention.

Commenting, Maya Foa, the head of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said:

“In Egypt we’ve already seen scores of innocent people – including juveniles such as Ibrahim Halawa – arrested for the mere ‘crime’ of being at or near a protest. Thousands still face torture, ‘mass trials’, and the threat of hanging. It is sickening that President Sisi now wants to dismantle what little checks remain to prevent wrongful executions. This wave of repression has done nothing to restore law and order in Egypt – Sisi must urgently change course, before any more lives are lost.”

This report was prepared by the team at Reprieve. The organization’s website describes it as:

“Founded in 1999 by British human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, we provide free legal and investigative support to some of the world’s most vulnerable people: British, European and other nationals facing execution, and those victimised by states’ abusive counter-terror policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.”