Boris Johnson must urge Egypt to end mass death sentences – Reprieve

February 25, 2017

The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, is in Egypt this weekend for talks with the President and Foreign Minister, according to reports.

The visit comes amid concerns over abuses in Egypt, including torture and the use of the death penalty in mass trials against people who were arrested in connection to protests.

The Foreign Office’s Human Rights Priority Country update report on Egypt for 2016 said “Egyptian courts continued to use the death penalty,” and highlighted “the mass trial of 494 individuals on charges related to a protest that took place in August 2013, which includes Irish national Ibrahim Halawa.”

Ibrahim, who is assisted by international human rights organisation Reprieve, was a child when he was arrested. He faces a potential death sentence, and has reported being regularly tortured.

Reprieve has raised concerns that a UK state-owned company, Northern Ireland Cooperation Overseas Ltd, has provided Egypt’s justice ministry with plans and equipment for the building of courthouses – including a juvenile court in Cairo.

According to figures collated by Reprieve, nearly 2,000 people have received death sentences in mass trials, while nearly 900 people – including Ibrahim – continue to face the death penalty.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, a deputy director at Reprieve, said:

“Boris Johnson is visiting Egypt as thousands of people languish in horrific prison conditions, after they were arrested in connection with protests. Hundreds still face the death penalty in desperately unfair mass trials – including people who were arrested as children, like Ibrahim Halawa. The Foreign Office says it is concerned about the human rights situation in Egypt – but ministers continue to offer support to President Sisi’s government while Ibrahim’s ordeal continues. The Foreign Secretary must urge Sisi to end these appalling abuses, and free Ibrahim and the many like him.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 7792 351 660. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.