WMA calls for release of death sentence physician

The World Medical Association has called for the immediate release of a leading Egyptian physician as well as 11 other defendants, who are facing the death sentence following participation in anti-Government sit-ins eight years ago.

Dr. David Barbe, President of the WMA, in a letter to the Egyptian President, says the WMA is gravely concerned about reports that the Egyptian Court of Cassation has recently upheld the death sentence for 12 political figures, including Dr. Mohamed Elbeltagy, a well-known physician, academic and professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Al-Azhar University.

Dr. Barbe writes: ‘The death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is contrary to the ethical values of our medical profession to maintain the utmost respect for human life. We urge you to consider establishing a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty and to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment.

‘We are also extremely worried by the conditions of detention of those defendants. We have been told of practices contravening medical ethics and human rights standards, such as solitary confinement and other degrading treatments, as well as the lack of access to medical care and prohibition of visits.’

Dr. Barber’s letter refers to a marked increase in executions carried out in Egypt in 2020 and ends: ‘’We call on you to release Dr. Elbeltagy and the other defendants, unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence in line with international law and standards’.