UN Human Rights Chief Denounces Egypt’s Mass Trials

UN Human Rights Chief Denounces Egypt’s Mass Trials
UN Human Rights Chief Denounces Egypt’s Mass Trials

In her first speech to the UN Human Right Council (OHCHR) on Monday, the body’s new head, Michelle Bachelet, said she was “shocked” by the death sentences handed down to 75 people in Egypt after a mass trial there.

The verdict, which a judge issued on September 7, condemned 75 people to death and another 600 to prison terms of varying lengths, including 47 life sentences. The mass trial related to a weeks-long protest in Cairo’s Rabaa Square over the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood stalwart and former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The charges against the 739 defendants ranged from property damage to murder, France24 reported.

The protest was forcefully dispersed by security forces and more than 800 people died in the violence. Thousands of people were arrested in the aftermath.

Bachelet used her first speech at OHCHR to highlight human rights violations in several countries, including Egypt. “I am shocked by Saturday’s death sentences for 75 people, following another mass trial which failed to comply with international standards regarding due process guarantees,” she said in the speech. “The trial of these protestors contrasts sharply with a recent law that bestows immunity on senior members of the security forces for human rights violations which they may have committed.”

Bachelet had already reacted to the verdict, saying on Sunday that it would be an “irreversible miscarriage of justice” if the death sentences were carried out. The masse trial did not permit individuals to have their own representation or to mount a defense, Bachelet said, adding that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove individual guilt. She called on the court to overturn the death sentences.

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