A recent workshop organised by the Maat Centre for Constitutional and Law Studies saw law specialists and professors ask the Egyptian government to respond to the United Nation’s call for a suspension of the death penalty, which stands in contradiction to international treaties and to the basic right to life.
Law specialists in
Ayman Aqeel, head of Maat said that, while 59 articles in Egyptian law stipulate the death penalty, Islamic shari’a resorts to the death penalty in four types of crime. These are premeditated murder; abducting and raping a woman; espionage; and spying in wartime, given that the accused is accorded a fair trial.
Aqeel said the view that capital punishment leads to a reduction in crime lacked credibility. “There is no going back on a death penalty ruling once it is executed,” he stressed.
A report by Amnesty International said that, in 2007, 1,860 were sentenced to death in
Political researcher Abdel-Nasser Qandil opposes the use of capital punishment in political cases, claiming that its use in some countries has not reduced political violations. He said that 27,500 people all over the world are awaiting death by execution. Some countries are resorting more and more to capital punishment, he said; it is believed that in Iran 317 people were sentenced to death in 2007 as opposed to 177 in 2006, in Saudi Arabia 143 in 2007 versus 39 in 2006, and in Pakistan 137 versus 82.
He reminded that Egyptian legislation included 105 areas under which capital punishment could be used, including the penal code, the military law, the drug law, and the arms and ammunitions law.
Capital punishment, he said, was applied four times in political cases in
Nabil Helmy, member of the National Council for Human Rights, strongly supported the abolishment of the death penalty. He called for resorting to ransom money in the cases of premeditated murder.
It is feared that Arab regimes, representative of the Oman Council for Human Rights Manhal al-Sayeda, warned, may deceive the international public by labelling political opposition as ‘terrorist crimes’. At the same time, lawyer Essam al-Islamboli said, Egyptian political trials lacked constitutionality.
The grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, who sits at the head of the highest authority of Sunni Islam, said: “We strongly renounce Western calls to abolish the death sentence under the pretext of conflict with human rights. Executing a killer or a violator helps generate a sense of security and tranquillity the world over.” Dr Tantawi wondered at the alleged concern over killers’ rights while disregarding the rights of the victims and their families. He termed the abolishment of the death sentence “injustice rather than justice, corruption rather than reform”.