Wien, 24. March 2014 Press release

Foreign Minister sharply criticises death sentences in Egypt

Prosecution must be politically neutral and observe guaranteed human rights

Vienna, 24 March 2014 – "We condemn the death sentences in Egypt that became known today in the strongest terms. Together with our partners in the EU we are advocating the abolition of the death penalty worldwide and object to collective punishment. It goes without saying that terrorism and violence must not go unpunished, but prosecution must be politically neutral and comply with guaranteed human rights. Imposing the death sentence as an excessive collective punishment can by no means be accepted. We therefore call upon Egypt to do everything in its power to guarantee the right to a fair trial, to correct this situation and prevent the executions from being carried out", Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in his comment on today's news that 529 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death in a mass trial before a criminal court in the Egyptian city of Minya.

"Capital punishment is never an expression of justice. It is a brutal attack on human dignity and serves neither the prevention of criminal acts nor security", Foreign Minister Kurz said. He referred to Austria's and the EU's general objection to capital punishment. Foreign Minister Kurz said that the case at hand illustrates that the endeavours to achieve the global abolishment of capital punishment must not slacken. Kurz confirmed that Austria will continue to apply itself to abolishing capital punishment and to support a debate that takes account not only of the fundamental principles of the rule of law but also of ethical aspects. Some 50 of 193 states still use capital punishment; twenty years ago there were twice as many.

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