No Military Trials group accused the president’s assistant to foreign media Essam Al-Haddad of lying in a statement he released Saturday.
Al-Haddad’s statement, entitled “Statement on Egypt’s Progress towards Universal Human Rights” and written in English, listed a number points in the new constitution that he described as positive. Among the points was that civilian trials before military courts are prohibited according to article 198.
“Unfortunately,” a statement by No Military Trials read, “that is a blatant lie.”
The statement quoted article 198, which says, “Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that harm the Armed Forces. The law shall define such crimes and determine the other competencies of the Military Judiciary.”
No Military Trials said in the statement that the article opens the door for the militarily trying civilians in a “purposefully vague” manner, leaving it up to legislation. They also cited the Military Justice code, which allows the militarily to try civilians in two cases; if civilians are involved in a struggle with a military officer, or if they commit a crime in an area where the military is deployed.
Another quoted article was article 197, which states that the National Defense Council “shall be consulted about draft laws related to the Armed Forces.” According to No Military Trials, this article is a means to allow the armed forces to “retain influence over any legislation related to the military,” thus preserving the military trial of civilians.
The National Defense Council includes the Minister of Defense among other military leaders.
The movement also drew a quick comparison between the new constitution and the 1971 and 1954 constitutions regarding military trials for civilians. The 1971 constitution neither promoted nor prohibited military trials, while the 1954 constitution clearly prohibited them.
In their statement, No Military Trials added that one draft of the new constitution included an article completely banning militarily trying civilians, but this article was “mysteriously removed from the later drafts, to be replaced by article 198 in its present form.”
This is not the first time Al-Haddad has been accused of lying in one of his statements. The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) had accused the presidency, in a statement released Monday, of lying about the court and attempting to “undermine its reputation internationally… without giving one piece of truthful evidence to support its allegations and claims.” The presidency released a statement the next day, denying any intention to offend the SCC.