Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Egypt's military courts: a growth industry

Mahmoud Khalid has written this piece for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, concerning the expanding role of military courts in Egypt. Excerpt:
The new amendments [to Emergency Law 162 of 1958], passed by the pro-regime parliamentary majority in a live vote, specify that military and judicial officers do not require permission from the special prosecutor’s office before arresting, detaining, or confiscating money and private property from citizens. The amendments also allow military prosecutors to investigate incidents and crimes committed by civilians without giving them the right to stand before a judge. Additionally, the amendments empower the president to task the military prosecutor’s office with investigating crimes related to the emergency law. Lastly, they stipulate the formation of an Emergency High Court for State Security, which will include permanent military judges. Such amendments further a systemic policy that aims to expand the military’s jurisdiction into civilian courts while simultaneously undermining the civil and constitutional rights granted by the Egyptian constitution. For instance, Article 204 of the Egyptian constitution states that a civilian may not be tried in a military court, the only exception being acts of aggression directed against military installations and bases.
Egyptian military courts have prosecuted thousands of civilians, making it far and away the world's worst current offender against the human rights principle that such courts should have jurisdiction only over military personnel and only for matters directly and substantially related to the performance of military duty.

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