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Egypt's security courts worry U.N.

Sept. 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A U.N. envoy expressed deep concern about allegations of torture and degrading treatment reported at so-called state security courts in Egypt.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez said he was concerned about security courts in Egypt after three men were sentenced to death on terrorism charges. He said their confessions were allegedly extracted under duress.

An African commission on human rights last year condemned the convictions, saying the trials weren't in line with prohibitions on degrading treatment.

Mendez said he was reassured that Cairo agreed to address African concerns but added he was frustrated that the cases were resubmitted to a different panel within the same security court system.

"The Egyptian authorities should proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation of the allegations of torture claimed by the three defendants," he said in a statement.

Mendez was referring to 2006 trials at the Supreme State Security Emergency Court. The system, the United Nations says, was plagued by irregularities.

"A state's obligation to ensure that any statement made as a result of torture should not be used as evidence in any proceedings, must apply in all circumstances, including in the context of military courts," said Mendez.

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