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Egypt's political forces denounce military trials in draft constitution

February 5, 2014 at 2:11 am

Egypt’s National Salvation Front (NSF) and Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution have denounced a new constitutional article which allows civilians to be tried before martial courts. Egypt’s Committee of 50 mandated by the interim government to amend Egypt’s constitution voted on Wednesday, 20 November, in favour of the article; allowing civilians to be tried before military courts in specific cases. Out of the Committee’s 50 members; 30 members voted in favour of the article; seven against while 11 abstained.

Dr Azazi Ali Azazi; the official NSF spokesman said “the new constitution should not include any articles about military trials because Egypt is seeking to build a State of law where everyone is equal before the law”. Azazi told Al Masry Al Youm newspaper “the military law already includes a specific provision about attacking military establishments. Therefore we do not need to include a new article in the Constitution. There is a general trend within the Committee of 50 to tailor articles to fight terrorism and specifically the Muslim Brotherhood and both will disappear. Yet these articles will be used against opposition forces”.

Ahmad Fawzi; the Secretary- General of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party said “the civilians’ right to be tried before a civilian judge (court) is a basic human and civil right. Therefore our Party’s representatives voted against the article. The national forces are shocked by the majority of the Committee’s members who supported the article, especially members of Tamarod movement. We must understand the difference between standing against the military establishment and opposing military trials of civilians”.

Maha Abu Bakr; an Executive member of NSF said “the Constitution should not include any exceptions to prohibiting military trials of civilians. The armed forces should not be at odds with any citizen. The Committee must bow to the revolution’s demands and omit this article otherwise we will mobilize against it”.

Mustafa Shawqi; a leading member of the Youth movement for Justice and Freedom said that he did not expect the Committee which should reflect the spirit of 30 June revolution would allow the military to try civilians under any circumstances; especially as most of them had rejected the original article in the 2012 national Constitutional Referendum. Shawqi told Al Masry Al Youm “This article violates the civilians’ right to fair litigation and grants the military the power to be the adversary and the judge at the same time. We do not trust the military justice system and we do not believe it will follow fair trials. We had a previous experience with the military which lasted for three years after January revolution”.

Political activist Ziad al-Aleimi told Al Masry Al Youm “to allow the trial of civilians before military courts is part of overlapping authorities; which should be a separated. The trials should have been banned entirely”.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Maher, a co-founder of 6 April Movement denounced the article saying: “We opposed the Muslim Brotherhood Constitutional Referendum because of similar articles. To introduce the same articles means that we will oppose the new Constitution and will mobilise against it”.