Egypt national standards
International legal framework
UNGA Resolution for a moratorium on exécutions: against
International Pact on Civil and Political Rights: ratified in 1982
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: NA
Second Optional Protocol to the IPCPR: NA
Convention against torture or other inhuman or degrading treatments: acceded in 1986
Protocol to the Convention against torture: NA
Convention on the Rights of the Child: ratified in 1990
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: ratified in 1984
Arab Charter on Human Rights: N/A
Under the Universal periodic review (UPR) on 5 November 2014, Egypt accepted recommendations to abolish the death penalty for those under 18 years and to take measures to ensure due process and fair trials, particularly in any proceeding that could entail the application of the death penalty. Egypt took note of the recommendations to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to introduce a moratorium on exectuions with a view to abolish the death penalty.
National legal framework
Constitution: the new Constitution approved in 2014 does not refer to capital punishment but ensures the right to life (article 59) but stipulates that Sharia law principles is a “main source for legislation”. However, art 93 states that «The State shall be bound by the international human rights agreements, covenants and conventions ratified by Egypt, and which shall have the force of law after publication in accordance with the prescribed conditions».
Penal code: the Egypt Penal Code, Law No. 58 of 1937, as amended by Law No. 5 of 2010, provides the death penalty as a main punishment for 9 serious crimes (in addition to other possible alternative imprisonment sentences, the death penalty is mandatory in a few crimes, but the majority of the articles included death penalty provides alternative sentences, up to the court) for: premeditated killing (art.230), torture causing death (art. 126), use of substances/drugs resulting in death (art 233) as well as other deliberate murder if associated with another crime (arts. 234 and 375 bis first), intentional arson of a building, resulting in the deaths of persons who were present in the building at the outbreak of the fire (art. 257), kidnapping of a female aggravated by rape (including statutory rape) (art. 290); espionage “in times of war” (arts. 77-77(C), 78(A)-78(C), 78(E), 80, 81, 82(B), 83(A) cum. 86-102 Bis, 85, 86-102(2), 87 cum. 102(B), 92,).
A variety of treasonous offenses are punishable by death: offenses against State security committed from abroad includes 12 crimes punishable by death penalty. The section dedicated to crimes committed against state security internally includes 14 crimes punishable by death.
These crimes are: intentionally undermining Egypt’s independence, unity or territorial integrity; fighting against Egypt or assisting Egypt’s enemies or inciting the same; demoralizing the troops or people; undermining the defense of Egypt, particularly in time of war; breaching defense contracts at time of war; interference with the constitutional order; armed attempts to overthrow the government; or other offenses.
According to art 17 of the penal code, the court has the right to reduce the punishments form death penalty to life imprisonment (20 years max.), and life imprisonment to medium imprisonment (7 to 15 years), and medium imprisonment to regular imprisonment (3 to 7 years).
This reduction wouldn’t be applicable for articles 86, 87, 88 & 89 unless the articles gives alternative punishment (Example: Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment).
In all other chapters, death penalty might be reduced by the court.
Martial Rules Law. 10 Crimes in the Law of Military Rules bring the death penalty, such as in crimes of war related to the enemy, captives, the wounded and instances of rebellion, capital punishment is prescribed in articles 130 -132-133-134-135-136-138-139-
The Egypt Narcotics Law, No. 182 of 1960, amended through 1994, foresees death penalty for 10 crimes, such as trafficking and activities such as manufacture or possession in connection with trafficking (art. 40); drug possession if for trade (art 33, 34, 40 and 41, other sentences is applicable, and art 17 is applicable to all, Including 34/2).
A wide and vaguely-defined range of terrorism-related offenses not necessarily resulting in death are punishable by death.
12 crimes in the Anti-Terrorism Act and one in the Arms and Ammunition Act are punishable by death penalty, including a wide and vaguely-defined range of terrorism-related offenses not necessarily resulting in death are punishable by death.
Under article 86 of the Egyptian Penal Code (*), the terrorism means “any use of force, violence, threats or intimidation to which an offender resorts in order to put into effect an individual or collective criminal plan designed to disrupt public order or endanger public safety and security by harming or terrorizing persons, jeopardizing their lives, freedoms or security, damaging the environment, damaging or seizing control of public or private communications, transport, assets, buildings or property, preventing or obstructing the functioning of public authorities, places of worship or academic institutions or rendering the Constitution, the laws or regulations inoperative.”
The penalties applied to terrorism are reproduced in article 86 bis of the Penal Code and the penalty of death or hard labour for life has been introduced for using the method of terrorism in realising or excecuting association, corportion, organization, group or band and providing arms, ammunitions, explosives, materials, machines, funds, property or information (article 86 bis, paragraph (a). The same penalty is prescribed in case of the victim’s death in an attempt to force people to join or maintain membership in anti-state or terrorist organizations (article 86 bis, paragraph (b).
If with a foreign country or with an association, corportion, organization, group or band whose headquarter is based abroad or with any of those who work in the interest of any of them and also communicate with them, to carry out a terroristic act inside Egypt or against its properties, insitutions, civil servants, diplomatic reprsentatives, or its citizens, in the course of their duties or during their being abroad, if the crime occurr or is attemped (art. 86 bis C)
Causing death in conjunction with a hijacking of any form of transportation (art. 88), while keeping in hostage a person with the aim to influence the public authorities or obtaining a benefit or privilege of any kind from them (art. 88 bis), while resisting to authorities assigned to the executions of the provisions of Section 1, Part 2 “Prejudice to the Government” (art. 88 bis A) or in conjuction with the destruction of a government facility, utility or place for public use (art. 90).
The use of explosive with the intention to commit crimes of art 87 (overthrow or change the constitution or the republican regime) or with the purpose of political assasination or damaging public properties (102 bis B) is punished with death meanwhile the in case of use or attempt to use explosive in a way liable to expose people’s life to a danger is punished by death in case the explosion cause death (ar. 102 bis C). Usurping military authority or leading armed gangs for criminal purposes (art. 91 and 93) is punishable by death.
A few ammendments has been adopted in April 2016 to the criminal procedures act and the emergencies law, please revisit the working paper “Constitutional entitlements in the field of criminal legislations: Orientations and commitments”, by the project consultant Mr. Mahmoud Kandil, presented in the national workshop May 2017.
(*)In the light of the assassination of former President Anwar al-Sadat and facing the spread of terrorism, Egypt declared a state of public emergency and introduced legal measures to combat the phenomenon, as the Act No. 97 of 1992, amending the Penal Code by introducing stiffer penalties for certain crimes, if committed for terrorist ends and inserting an additional article 86 into the Penal Code, which reads as follows.
Categories of offenders excluded from the death penalty:
Individuals below age 18 at time of crime. There is no a specific article in the penal code but Egypt is party to the ICCPR and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibit the execution of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18. However, the Committee on the Rights of the Child in its 2001 Concluding Observations observed that those under 18 are considered “children,” and expressed concern that those aged 18 to 20 may not receive the same protections as those afforded to those under 18, and did not express any concern that individuals in Egypt may be executed for crimes committed while under the age of 18.
Pregnant women cannot be executed until two years after her child’s birth (art. 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code). Additionally, Egypt is party to the ICCPR, which prohibits the execution of pregnant women. Women with small children, under Article 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a pregnant woman cannot be executed until two years after her child’s birth.
With regard capital crimes, the Code of Criminal Procedures foresees that:
- if the accused person fails to engage counsel, the court must appoint a lawyer to perform this function, at the State’s expense (Code of Criminal Procedures, arts. 381);
- a death sentence can be pronounced only by a unanimous decision and after consultation with the Mufti of the Republic. The sentence can be appealed by means of a legal challenge and a request for a retrial (Code of Criminal Procedures, art. 381). Mufti didn’t aaprove death penalty for many cases, and in many other cases didn’t aprove death penalty for most of the accused persons, and rather his opinion is consultative, but courts do resepect his opinion.
- the Department of Public Prosecutions must appeal death sentences delivered in the presence of the parties to the Court of Cassation in order to ensure the proper application of the law, even if the condemned person has not lodged an appeal with the Court (article 46 of Act No. 57 of 1959, concerning the circumstances and procedures for lodging an appeal with the Court of Cassation);
- the file pertaining to a case in which a final sentence of death has been delivered must be transmitted to the President of the Republic through the Minister of Justice so that the person may exercise his right to a pardon or to commutation of the sentence (Code of Criminal Procedures, art. 470);
- the President is entitled to reduce the sentence to imprisonment or full amnesty when the verdict is final.
- the penalty may not be executed on official holidays or days that the faith of the condemned person regards as special feast days (Code of Criminal Procedures, art. 475);
- the execution of a penalty of death imposed on a pregnant woman shall be suspended until she has been delivered of her child (Code of Criminal Procedures, art. 476);
- the death penalty shall not be imposed on persons under the age of 18 (The Children’s Act No. 12 of 1998, art. 112);
- the relatives of a condemned person may meet with him on the day appointed for execution of the sentence and shall be provided with facilities to perform the religious rites required by the faith of the condemned person (The Criminal Code, art. 472)
From July 2013 to 3 February 2016, out of a total of about 1,700 preliminary death sentences for violence-related charges referred to the Grand Mufti, more than 1,000 did not see a confirmation and the defendants were instead given sentences other than the death penalty or acquitted. Out of the 687 people initially sentenced to death, more than 500 have been re-tried after their verdicts were examined and rejected by the Court of Cassation. The others remained under examination, and only one was finally sentenced, as of 3 February 2016.
The death penalty in practice:
The avarage before 2011 were approximately 19 executions/year. The total executions carried out between 1906 and till 2014, were (approximately) 1429 according to academical studies
2012: unknown (under way)
2013: unknown (under way)
2015: 15, 7 for terrorism or political violent acts
2016: 16, 1 for terrorism
2017: 31, 15 for terrorism
- at least 17 (unknown)
2012 : 91
2013 : 109
2014 : at least 730 (there is a great difference between refering the 1491condemned accused persons to the grand Mufti and the actual final verdicts, the final verdicts included aprroximately 730 defendants)
2015 : at least 538
2016 : at least 237
2017: 293 between Janu and end of Jul, rest is under way(**)
Number of people in death row awaiting for their executions : between 580 and 590, 2 thirds of them were condemned before 2010)
(**) First degree verdicts:
According to the AOHR monitoring status, from Jan to Jul 2017, 114 judicial verdicts included death penalties for some condemned accused persons, reaching the number of 293 condemned persons (2.6/verdict), including 87 delibrate murders
The 293 varies between:
– 77% for delibrate murders, including murders emerged with other crimes
– 10 % terrorism
– 3% drugs smmugling
– 10 % rape