Sunday, June 16, 2019

Egypt loosens restrictions on military courts to prosecute civilians

Tahrir Square, Cairo.
Photo uploaded to commons by Jonathan Rashad - Flickr 
Egypt, with a troubled recent history of military governance and the use of military force against its own population, recently advanced legislative changes that will ease the ability of military courts to prosecute civilians.

The new legislation is in response to changes made to Egypt's constitution in April. The new laws also position the Egyptian president as the head of an overarching judicial council.

“The redraft states that civilians can be tried before military courts only in cases involving crimes against military installations, in military zones and along borders, involving military equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, secrets, funds and factories,” said Bahaaeddin Abu Shokka, head of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Egyptian parliament.

While described as a careful limitation on the use of military trials of civilians, the criteria listed above could be employed by creative prosecutors against civil dissidents in a wide variety of circumstances.

Military jurisdiction over civilians is widely condemned as a violation of international human rights law.

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