Egypt hangs 15 for Sinai Peninsula violence

Executions for attacks against troops described by rights group as ‘flagrant breach of international law’ by government.

Executions have seen a sharp increase since Sisi seized power from Morsi [Thibault Camus/AFP]

Egyptian authorities have hanged 15 men at two prisons in the north of the country, as part of a controversial policy.

The men were convicted for attacks committed in 2013 against the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula, that resulted in the deaths of soldiers and the destruction of vehicles.

The executed men were assumed to have carried out the deadly operations as part of the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

ISIL-affiliated fighters have ramped up deadly attacks in Sinai in recent years, inflicting heavy losses on the Egyptian military as well as civilians.

A recent attack on a mosque in Northern Sinai killed over 300 and was widely attributed to ISIL, although the group did not claim responsibility.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered security forces to put down the campaign with “brutal force”.

Some say Tuesday’s executions are another example of human rights abuses under Sisi, who seized power from the democratically elected Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 military-backed coup.

“These death sentences and executions are a flagrant breach of international law. Trials in Egypt routinely fail to meet basic fair trial standards, and this is especially so in mass trials and military tribunals – as in this case,” Maya Foa, director of international human rights organisation Reprieve, said in a statement delivered to Al Jazeera.

Rise in executions

According to figures from Cornell University’s Death Penalty Worldwide, a project designed to inform policymakers, judges, scholars and others, the years since Sisi took power have seen a sharp increase in executions.

From 2011, the year former president Hosni Mubarak was deposed, to 2013, Egypt executed one person.

Starting in 2014, Egypt executed 14 people.

The following year, 22 more people were executed. At least 44 people were executed in 2016.

Until Tuesday, Egypt had executed one person this year.

Sisi’s government has also overseen an increase in crackdowns on journalists and the LGBTQ community in Egypt.

Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has been imprisoned there for over a year.

Reporters Without Borders placed Egypt at 161 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

In spite of these concerns, Egypt continues to receive military aid from the US, which plans to give over $1.38bn to the country over the next year.

“The international community, particularly Egypt’s allies, must condemn these killings,” Foa of Reprieve said.

The European Commission and member states must urgently review their assistance to Egypt’s judiciary, which is responsible for these atrocities.”


Source: Al Jazeera