A delegation from the No Military Trials for Civilians group called on the Constituent Assembly, tasked with amending the 2012 constitution, to cancel military trials for civilians in the constitution.
In a listening session conducted to discuss military trials for civilians, the group said military trials lack independence and neutrality, while also displaying the procedures faced by militarily-tried civilians and their lawyers.
No Military Trials provided a set of demands regarding amendments to the 2012 constitution. The first demand is clearly specifying in the constitution that military trials be banned for civilians, leaving no room for exceptions. Article 198 of the now-suspended 2012 constitution prohibits military trials for civilians, except in cases where harm is inflicted upon the armed forces.
Mohamed Fouda, a No Military Trials member who attended the listening session, said while many assembly members agreed with these demands, others asked the group representatives whether, in light of the current “exceptional circumstances” Egypt is going through, the state would be able to punish the perpetrators without resorting to military trials.
“We explained that civil courts could achieve justice just as well as military courts,” Fouda said.
Hassan Shahin, founding member and spokesman of the Tamarod (Rebellion) campaign, said the campaign is completely against the militarily trying civilians.
“Yet, we understand that military institutions are currently being attacked by terrorists,” Shahin said. Shahin said that the penal code must be amended in order to speed up civilian trials of those who threaten national security. “If we try Muslim Brotherhood members with the same laws we tried ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the former would get off the hook just like the latter did.”
Two founding members of Tamarod, Mohamed Abdel Aziz and Mahmoud Badr, are members in the Constituent Assembly. They both announced their “administrative separation” from the campaign as soon as they were appointed in the assembly.
No Military Trials is also demanding that Article 75 of the 2012 constitution be kept unchanged. The article states that people are to be tried in front of civilian courts, and bans all exceptional trials.
No Military Trials’ third demand is to include an article on transitional justice, as proposed by the Warakom Bltaqrir rights group, in the constitutional amendments. The proposed amendment gives all civilians who were subjected to military trials the right to compensation and punishes those who committed crimes against them.
Fouda said the group will work on lobbying for banning military trials for civilians among individual Constituent Assembly members. “We want to make as many members as possible reject allowing military trials for civilians,” Fouda said.
The Constituent Assembly conducted another hearing session on military trials on Thursday, hosting Medhat Radwan, the head of the Military Judiciary Authority. Radwan said that the fundamentals of the military judiciary are no different than those of the civilian judiciary, since personnel for both take the same courses and complete the same training.
The listening sessions were originally called for by No Military Trials; the group demanded discussing the issue with military representatives within the same session.