Spotlight on Egypt

Reprieve has been tracking the dramatic rise in death sentences in Egypt since President Sisi took power in 2014.

President Sisi has overseen an unprecedented surge in death sentences as part of a wave of repression. Many thousands – including journalists, activists, and juveniles have been locked up for attending pro-democracy protests. They languish in horrific prison conditions, with the prospect of a death sentence constantly hanging over them.

Many are tortured in prison or by the police, and Kafkaesque mass trials have seen hundreds of death sentences handed down at a time. Ibrahim Halawa faced the death penalty in a mass trial of 494 defendants, who faced largely identical charges.

Notable Cases

Ibrahim Halawa

Irish national Ibrahim was just 17 when he was caught up in the turmoil surrounding political protests while in Egypt on holiday.

Ibrahim was arrested along with his three older sisters, in the chaos of a protest in Cairo in August 2013. At the time, Ibrahim was just 17 years old, and about to start his final year of school. His sisters were released, but Ibrahim was not so lucky.

During Ibrahim’s detention, the police beat him, denied him medical treatment, and denied him access to his lawyers. He was kept in solitary confinement in a cell less than a metre square with no light and no toilet.

He was detained for over four years in an adult prison whilst his trial was continually postponed. Ibrahim was acquitted of all charges in October 2017.


“This is the place where experimental torture is practised. This is the place that when you’re in, there is no out. Words will never do justice to what happens in Egyptian prisons.”
Ibrahim Halawa

Ibrahim spoke of prisoners being tied naked in a crucifix position in the prison’s halls, while others had been electrocuted, using pools of water to increase the pain. Ibrahim added that he was regularly beaten with rubber bars, and was singled out by one senior guard for particular abuse.


Reprieve helped secure Ibrahim’s freedom but there are more prisoners facing execution around the world.

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Quick facts

Execution method


A frightening rise in death sentences

At least 1,857 individuals have been sentenced to death in Egypt since 1 January 2014. At least 846 of these sentences have been handed down without the defendant even appearing in court.

At least 537 individuals are currently under a sentence of death handed down since 1 January 2014.

At least 891 additional individuals are currently on trial or awaiting trial on charges that could carry a death sentence.

At least 34 individuals have been executed since 1 January 2014.

At least 2 juveniles are currently on trial alongside adults, facing charges that could carry a death sentence.