Rights group urges Morsi to end military trials of civilians

Monday, July 16, 2012
New York/Cairo: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Egypt’s newly elected government to immediately end military trials of civilians.

In a statement issued to the press, the New York-based rights group said, “The new administration of President Mohamed Morsi should take urgent steps to address sectarian violence. The administration should ensure that those responsible for the violence are identified, investigated, and prosecuted in courts that meet international fair trial standards and order a retrial of those sentenced by discredited emergency law courts.”

The organisation highlighted that under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power after former President Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011, “Egypt has had at least 12 incidents of serious sectarian violence, which has left numerous homes and shops destroyed and at least 25 people dead.”

According to the global watchdog, only two cases have resulted in prosecutions, but prosecutors referred the cases to Emergency State Security Courts, which were "notorious for failing to meet minimum due process standards and whose verdicts cannot be appealed. 

Other cases were handled with so-called "reconciliation meetings", which did not result in justice, Human Rights Watch alleged.

“Sectarian tensions in Egypt have long been punctuated by outbursts of criminal violence, yet time and again authorities fail to prosecute or punish those responsible,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

He added, “Putting an end to sectarian violence means prosecuting those responsible and making sure that the outcome is fair.”
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