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Court revokes exception to emergency law

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 8 March 2012 - ANHRI welcomed today the ruling of the State Council's Court of Administative Justice, which revokes the decision of Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), to refer civilians accused of “thuggery” to military trials. This ruling entails the demise of the last justification of maintaining the state of emergency imposed on Egypt for 31 years.

The ruling states that Tantawi's decision on 25 January 2012, which provided for the repeal of the emergency law except in cases of “thuggery”, violates the Egyptian constitution and international conventions that guarantee the right of a citizen to be referred to a civilian judge. It also states that the appearance of citizens before the military courts turns the military justice system into an opponent and a referee at the same time, which affects the course of justice. The Court also holds that suspension of the constitution is not a justification to infringe on such a basic right.

It is worth noting that the Court of Administrative Justice has referred several lawsuits to the Supreme Constitutional Court in November 2011. These lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of Article 48 of the Military Justice Code No. 521 of 1966 which allows the referral of civilians to military courts.

“This ruling is a step forward for the independence of the judiciary and on the way to end military and exceptional trials in general,” said ANHRI.

ANHRI calls for the immediate end of the state of emergency, which would firstly ensure the end of military trials for civilians, the re-trial of civilians previously tried in a military court before a civilian judge, and legal redress for the innocent people whose right to a fair trial has been wasted in a military justice system that lacks the minimum elements of a fair trial.

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