A senior, renowned Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabry, has exposed the Egyptian legal system by making rather frank revelations of his beliefs, and what can well be perceived as the mind-set of the Egyptian judiciary and legal system. The judiciary has been criticised internationally by human rights organisations for its politicised rulings against those who oppose the military regime in Egypt.
The Egyptian judiciary has, since the military coup on 3 July, 2013, carried out unprecedented shambolic rulings against political opponents, demonstrating the clear mockery of justice that now exists in Egypt. The grave travesty of justice has been deplored worldwide, yet no action, or condemnation on a governmental level, has been directed at the Egyptian regime and its judicial system.
“I personally do not believe in something called human rights,” Samir Sabry told Sabah Al-Assema on the Egyptian AlAssema satellite channel, “or organisations for human rights.”
The violations taking place in Egypt since the coup demonstrate clearly how the Egyptian regime and all its institutions, including the judicial system, have no respect for, or abide by, any human rights laws.
With torture, sexual assaults, solitary confinement, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrests and detentions rampant in Egypt at an unprecedented level (described by Amnesty International as the “worst human crisis”), it is not surprising that all of these violations are carried out under the umbrella of a system that does not believe in the very basic human rights of its citizens. Indeed, it is evident that the regime’s security forces act with impunity and are free to carry out the most horrific of acts; nobody is brought to account.
Who is Samir Sabry?
- He was the civil plaintiff behind designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in Egypt in February 2014.
- He was the civil plaintiff behind banning April 6 Movement in April 2014.
- He was the civil plaintiff who filed a lawsuit to designate Hamas a terrorist group.
- He filed a lawsuit demanding that the government severs ties with Turkey because it supports the Brotherhood.
- He filed a lawsuit demanding that Qatar is listed as a state that supports terrorism.
- He filed a lawsuit demanding the designation of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr as a channel that supports terrorism (Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr was consequently shut down).
Today in Egypt, hundreds face the death penalty or life sentences from kangaroo courts in trials which have lasted minutes, being neither fair nor just. Appeals have been rejected and seven defendants have been executed by the regime to-date, despite strong evidence proving their innocence. The trials are by any standard lacking legitimacy, yet they are allowed to carry on and thousands of Egyptians are languishing in prison cells awaiting their fate. Indeed, the absence of fair trials guarantees violations of human rights.
While condemned prisoners normally remain on death-row for years as appeals are made, the seven executed thus far were killed in record time. Mahmoud Ramadan, the first to be executed in March, was hanged just a month after the high court upheld his sentence; the six executed in May were sentenced last October and had had their appeal denied.
Samir Sabry, however, called for executions to be carried as soon as the sentences are handed down, to deter the involvement of any human rights organisations in an appeal system. He alleges that such groups work for the benefit of terrorists.
In his TV interview, Sabry attacked the calls by human rights groups for a moratorium on executions. “No, we will not end executions,” he insisted. “On the contrary, we want to intensify the punishment of the death penalty… I have demanded that we execute and burn [the bodies]. We want the hearts of the mothers, and the children, of those executed, to burn with pain.”
With such vengeance and animosity towards the defendants and their families from the legal system, it is no wonder that detainees face the most horrific forms of torture and sexual assault. These are inflicted on men, women and children. Rights organisations have reported 948 cases of children being tortured by the security forces, and 78 cases of sexual violence against minors. Horrific reports claim that “anyone who hasn’t been raped is the exception.” Meanwhile, thousands lie deteriorating in solitary confinement for many months, against all international norms and conventions.
Sabry is a perfect reflection of the mind-set of the Egyptian legal system, a system which is used as a tool by the Egyptian military government to eliminate all opponents of the regime. Today, there have been 1,666 death sentences issued and referred to the Grand Mufti, including one given to Egypt’s first democratically-elected President, Dr Mohamed Morsi; 529 of the sentences have been approved by the mufti. Over 42,000 others wait in Egypt’s notorious prisons to hear their fate; many are being held without trial in conditions best described as inhumane, with police station cells filled to 400 per cent of their capacity and prisons to 160 per cent. On top of all this, detainees face torture and sexual assault as a matter of routine.
This all occurs with the apparent complicity of the international community, which is silent in the face of such reports. In fact, the Western world is welcoming coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on official visits, thus granting him the legitimacy the former general craves. In doing so, these states do little to demonstrate that they are true to the lofty legal principles to which they claim to adhere. In essence, they are giving the green light for such human rights violations to take place with impunity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.