Amnesty International has condemned a sharp rise in the use of the death penalty in Egypt, accusing authorities of a “horrifying execution spree”. The campaign group said Egypt executed at least 57 people in October and November alone, nearly double the number recorded in the whole of 2019.
Egypt has not commented on the report. Last month Amnesty condemned what it called the “chilling escalation” of a government crackdown on civil society in Egypt.
Human rights groups say dozens of activists have been arrested or subjected to travel bans and asset freezes under President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Mr Sisi led the military’s overthrow of his democratically elected predecessor Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following protests against his rule.
President Sisi has maintained that there are no political prisoners in Egypt and that security and stability in the country are paramount.
In its report published on Wednesday, Amnesty said the spike in executions followed a botched breakout attempt in September at Cairo’s notorious Tora prison. Several police officers and death-row prisoners died in the attempt.
Amnesty’s regional research and advocacy director Philip Luther said in the report that there had been “well documented and systematic breaches of fair trial rights in Egypt, with courts often relying on torture-tainted ‘confessions’.”
Human Rights Watch is among other campaign groups that have highlighted the rising numbers of executions in Egypt. Egypt has also faced accusations of a crackdown on human rights groups in recent weeks.
Last month, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) reported that its director of criminal justice, Karim Ennarah, was arrested in Dahab while office manager, Mohammed Basheer, was detained in Cairo. Days later, the head of the group, Gasser Abdel-Razek, was also detained in Cairo.
They have since been charged with spreading fake news and belonging to a terrorist organization. The EIPR is an independent human rights group which covers a variety of political, civil, economic and social issues in Egypt.
Egypt’s foreign ministry denounced what it said were “erroneous conclusions” being circulated in the media about the arrests. Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Egypt respected the rule of law and that the freedom of civil action was guaranteed under the constitution.
He rejected “any attempt to influence the investigations conducted by the public prosecutor’s office”.