UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet [official profile] on Sunday criticized [UN report] the confirmation of 75 deaths sentences by the Cairo Criminal Court in Egypt, deeming the cdecision “a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice.”
According to rights groups, the sentences are part of an unprecedented crackdown [Reuters report] by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi‘s [BBC profile] government, who promised during his campaign for the presidency that he would wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Sisi led the army that ultimately ousted Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the same year the Muslim Brotherhood was declared [JURIST report] a terrorist group.
Since the crackdown, members of the Muslim Brotherhood [JURIST news archive] have faced persecution in a series of mass trials in Egypt resulting in hundreds of people being pushed through the judiciary system. A mass trial was held charges were brought against 739 people in relation to the protests in Rabaa al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in Cairo in August 2013.
According to Bachelet, such practice invokes implications regarding due process and fair trial standards.
The conduct of the trial in the Cairo Criminal Court has been widely critcised. And rightly so. The 739 people were tried en masse, and were not permitted individual legal representation before the court. In addition, the accused were not given the right to present evidence in their defence, and the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove individual guilt. The evident disregard of basic rights of the accused places the guilt of all those convicted in serious doubt.
Bachelet urged the Egyptian Court of Appeal to review the verdicts to ensure alignment with international standards of justice.