The military establishment has applied “unprecedented pressure” to maintain military trials for civilians in the new constitution, said the No Military Trials campaign.
“Either submit to pressure or uphold the right of Egyptians to justice,” said the group in a statement issuedThursday, addressing the 50-member Constituent Assembly tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution.
The rights group, which has lobbied against civilians being tried before military tribunals, said the military was working to “keep the gains obtained in the Muslim Brotherhood era of trying civilians before military courts.”
No Military Trials also detailed a number of difficulties faced in the constitutional amendment drafting process, including the lack of a military representative during the group’s hearing with the assembly. They added that they were not contacted when the case for allowing military trials of civilians was being made before the drafting body.
The rights group’s statement said that it was clear that the military establishment was working to pressure into maintaining an article allowing military trials for civilians through closed door meetings, often involving individuals not part of the 50-member committee, thus “raising doubts about the independence and impartiality of the committee,” according to No Military Trials.
The constitution passed last year said “civilians will not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that harm the armed forces.”
The clause was used after the ratification of the constitution in December to try civilians before military tribunals, and the practice continued following former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
During the rights group’s session with the Constituent Assembly, No Military Trials for Civilians emphasised the lack of independence and neutrality of military tribunals, demanding that the amended constitution completely forbid civilians from standing military trial.