Egypt’s new military regime has arrested around 12,000 civilians since January 28, more than the total number detained during former president Hosni Mubarak entire 30-year rule, according to a US-based human rights group.
“Nearly 12,000 prosecutions since February is astounding and shows how Egypt’s military rulers are undermining the transition to democracy,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday. “The military can end these trials today – all it takes is one order to end this travesty of justice.”
HRW said the arrest and trial of civilians since the onset of Arab Spring in the North Africa state is more than the total who faced military trials during the entire 30-year rule of former president Hosni Mubarak and “undermines Egypt’s move from dictatorship to democratic rule,” it said.
Between January 28 and August 29, military tribunals tried 11,879 civilians, with 8,071 convicted, 1,836 receiving suspended sentences and 1,225 awaiting verdicts, according to General Adel Morsy of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
HRW said the military trials do not satisfy the requirements of independence and impartiality of courts of law as defendants in Egyptian military courts usually do not have access to counsel of their own choosing and judges are military officers subject to a chain of command and are not impartial.
In response to calls to end the military trials, General Morsy criticised the media for “spreading rumours”.
In May, Egypt’s military rulers announced plans to put Hosni Mubarak, the former president, on trial for conspiring to kill unarmed protesters during the uprising that unseated him in February.
Since Mubarak’s fall, the Egyptian economy has contracted seven percent, and its foreign currency reserves are still shrinking. Economic growth may slow to one percent this year, the lowest level since 1992, according to the International Monetary Fund.