Egyptian Parliament strongly rejects European Parliament's resolution on executions

Ahram Online , Sunday 18 Feb 2018

A general view of Egypt's parliament in Cairo, Egypt, February 16, 2017. Picture taken February 16, 2017 (Reuters)

The Egyptian Parliament's foreign affairs committee issued a statement strongly rejecting a resolution by the European Parliament on executions in Egypt, warning that the use of human rights matters to place restrictions on Egypt must stop.

Tarek Radwan, the head of the foreign affairs committee, said in the statement that the resolution reveals an "ignorance of the real conditions in Egypt", and that it is a violation of the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries.

"Egypt has the full right to choose its legal and judicial system," the statement read.

"The [Egyptian] Parliament rejects any dictations to amend national laws that have been drafted by elected representatives in accordance with the constitution, and [which] evolve from the social context as well as security threats in the country."

The European Parliament issued the resolution on 8 Februrary, expressing concerns that "strict procedures are in place within the country’s legal system in cases where the death penalty is applicable."

The European Parliament highlighted what it called a "significant rise in the number of people sentenced to death in Egypt since 2014," referring to around 1,857 individuals who have received the sentence since January 2014.

The EU legislative body also demanded that Egyptian defendants facing the death penalty be afforded "full access to legal representation and a fair trial in accordance with accepted international standards," and condemned "the use of the death sentence to suppress opposition."

Responding to that, the Egyptian Parliament's statement said that "stopping the death penalty is not an international commitment, nor a subject of consensus among countries."

The committee's statement stressed that, due to the severity of death penalty, Egyptian law contains number of procedures that guarantee the accused a fair trial with full space to defend themselves in accordance with international standards.

The committee also stated that military trials, which exist in many countries, offer the same guarantee of rights as the regular judiciary, but handle crimes related to the armed forces.

"Imposing concepts that are incompatible with other societies' prevailing social and cultural values is an act of arrogance," the committee added. 

The European Parliament acknowledged Egypt's fragile security situation, citing "a high risk of terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and major cities across the country by various jihadi organisations."

The European Parliament also said that it considers Egypt an important partner and that the EU countries have a shared interest in "defeating the threat to regional and international security."

The statement also expressed support for "further offers to help the Egyptian authorities develop robust intelligence and security mechanisms, in line with international law, including measures relating to crowd control and legitimate, peaceful protest."

The Egyptian parliament's response questioned the timing of the resolution, citing Egypt's upcoming presidential elections and ongoing comprehensive military operation against terrorism in Sinai, which was launched last week.

The timing "raises many questions on the credibility of some participants in the war against terrorism, and reveals the real intentions of those who claim partnership with the south of the Mediterranean, and those who make claims supporting stability in the Middle East region," according to the Egyptian parliament. 

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