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UN rights expert urges Egypt to ban use of evidence obtained through torture

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez [official website] on Wednesday called on the Egyptian government and courts to stop permitting evidence acquired through torture [press release] to be admitted in any legal proceedings including military trials. The announcement comes after three men were sentenced to death on terrorism charges based on confessions alleged to have been obtained through torture. In February 2011 the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) [official website] alleged [materials, PDF] that the men were tortured and subject to cruel and inhumane treatment. The Egyptian government had put the sentences on hold, a step Mendez found encouraging, but has not eliminated the sentencing completely. Mendez said, "the Egyptian authorities should proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of the allegations of torture claimed by the three defendants." The acts of terrorism the three men are alleged to have committed were carried out in 2004 and 2005 and are not connected to the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST feature] of the past year-and-a-half.

The struggle against forms of torture, and the negative effects it creates, has been an ongoing global struggle. In May Mendez made a nine-day visit to the Republic of Tajikistan [BBC profile], where he praised that country's effort to modify its criminal justice system designed to aid in eradicating torture [JURIST report], but he also found that mistreatment of suspects remains the norm. In March Mendez formally accused [JURIST report] the US government of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Pfc. Bradly Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], the US soldier held in solitary confinement for nearly a year based on his alleged involvement in WikiLeaks [official website; JURIST news archive], the largest intelligence leak in US history.

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