• 12:41
  • Wednesday ,08 June 2011

HRW calls on SCAF to end military trials, lift emergency law

By-Heba Fahmy-Daily News Egypt

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Wednesday ,08 June 2011

HRW calls on SCAF to end military trials, lift emergency law

CAIRO: Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to end the military trials of civilians and lift the emergency law to help Egypt’s transition towards democracy, in a statement issued on Tuesday.

An HRW delegation concluded a three-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday where it met with Egyptian officials and members of civil society, including a member of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, Justice Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz El Guindy and Assistant Interior Minister Marwan Mostafa.
HRW called on the SCAF to ensure the prosecution of security officials responsible for serious abuses, and annul laws that restrict freedom of expression.
"The current levels of crime and threats to security don't amount to a public emergency that threaten the life of the nation, the only permissible criteria for imposing emergency rule," HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth said. "Mubarak used the emergency law to put security officials above the law and subject Egyptians to arbitrary arrest and detention; these practices have no place in a new Egypt."
Military courts have tried 5,600 civilians since the Egyptian military was handed over power on Feb 11, according to HRW. In addition to 1,300 other military trials that were still in process. Local rights group project bigger numbers.
"These convictions are unsound under human rights law and those imprisoned should be released or retried before regular civilian courts," Roth said referring to military trials.
HRW called on SCAF to investigate allegations of torture and virginity tests conducted on female protesters at the hands of the military.
HRW said it interviewed 16 men and women who testified that military officers tortured, beat, and whipped detainees, and sometimes tortured them with electroshocks, in Cairo on March 6, in Lazoughli Square, and on March 9, inside the Egyptian Museum, adjacent to Tahrir Square.
HRW also called on SCAF to annul a number of laws that restrict essential freedoms and prevent free and fair parliamentary elections scheduled for September.
These laws include Articles 184, 179 and 102 of the penal code on "insulting public authorities," "insulting the president," and "spreading false information.”
The government should also annul the new law banning protests that “obstruct state institutions, or harm societal peace," which violates international law, according to the statement.