Thursday, December 18, 2014

Human Rights Watch statement on Egyptian military trials of civilians

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement concerning the surge of military trials of civilians in Egypt. Excerpt:
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (to which Egypt is a state party), has said that military courts “should not, in any circumstances whatsoever, have jurisdiction over civilians.”
According to article 93 of the Egyptian Constitution, the international human rights agreements, covenants, and conventions to which Egypt is a state party have the force of law.
Ahmed Helmy, a lawyer who has represented defendants before military courts in multiple cases, told Human Rights Watch that he believes that the authorities are acting unconstitutionally by retroactively applying the decree.
“President al-Sisi should repeal his October decree before more damage is done if he has any concern for preserving Egypt’s reputation and the new constitution he has sworn to protect,” [HRW's Sarah Leah] Whitson said. “He should also annul all verdicts against civilians that military courts have handed down since his government took power and order their retrial before civil judges.”

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