Egypt: mutilation and desecration of corpses constitute war crimes


– The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties denounces the desecration of corpses by the Egyptian army as heinous acts in grave violation of international humanitarian law. The video published online shows the members of the Egyptian army cutting off body parts the dead person and then burning his body. Moreover, we express our serious concern that this video is circulating among the Egyptian army personnel as power demonstration and indirect encouragement to commit war crimes.

GCRL affirms that the incident amounts to war crime with the irrefutable evidence. GCRL reiterates that anyone who mutilates or disfigures the corpse of a soldier who has died in war, or who commits upon it acts of desecration or other acts of brutality or obscenity, or who steals all or part of the corpse should be brought is criminally liable and should be brought to justice for commission of criminal acts. 

The Geneva Convention of 1949 stipulates that the deceased war victims should be protected and treatment of the corpses “inappropriate” manner, including taking pictures with them and desecration is prohibited. In the video, the bodies were burned in disrespect of burial ceremonies. Article 130 of the Geneva Convention affirms that the effective authorities must verify that detainees who die during detention are buried with respect, and if possible according to the rites of their religion, and that their graves are respected and maintained in a proper manner, and are marked in a way that can always be inferred, and bodies and their remains are not permitted. Also, it is forbidden to burn the dead bodies except for imperative of hygiene or duly expressed will of the deceased.

The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties states that despites the difficulty to determine when  the video was filmed, it represents clear evidence of systematic grave violations being committed during armed conflict in the areas of the Sinai Peninsula and other parts of Egypt. Therefore, we call for an impartial and independent investigation into the above-mentioned video incident and other allegations of serious violations in the Sinai and other areas of Egypt, including into the acts of torture, executions and extrajudicial killings.


We stress the necessity of international pressure on the Egyptian government to start legal procedures against the alleged perpetrators of these serious crimes, regardless of their whereabouts, as well as public condemnation of the exodus and widespread violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

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