World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's newly elected president must order an end to military trials of civilians to bring the country in line with international law, campaign group Human Rights Watch said in a report on Sunday.
Egypt's army generals handed over power to the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi last month but kept parts of the state apparatus under their control, limiting the president's influence over the military.
At least 12,000 civilians, including children, have been tried by military courts behind closed doors since the uprising in January last year that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak - more than in Mubarak's three-decade rule, according to rights groups.
"Now is the time for President Mursi to carry out his promises to end military encroachment on civilian decision-making and uphold human rights by ending military trials of civilians once and for all," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement.
If there was evidence that a civilian had committed a crime, they should be tried by a civilian court, she said.
Mursi formed a panel this month headed by a judge to investigate cases of civilians convicted by military courts.
The committee said 2,165 civilians remained imprisoned after being sentenced, according to the military, and recommended they be pardoned by the president.
"International law is crystal clear on this - no civilian, regardless of the crime, should be tried by a military court. It doesn't take a committee to confirm that," Whitson said.
HRW said the most recent figures issued by the military judiciary on the number of civilians tried by military courts did not appear to be accurate as they had not been updated since last year despite ongoing arrests and trials of civilians.
The group's report cited the case of three political activists who were arrested on Thursday and detained for four days after taking part in a peaceful protest near the home of the head of the military police. The activists are members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, it said.
It also cited the sentencing on July 9 of eight protesters - one aged 16 - by a Suez military court, for using fireworks that could be considered explosives at a protest. The sentences ranged from six months to three years, the group said.
"The Muslim Brotherhood's position on ending military trials of civilians is already in doubt after their failure to any way limit the military's right to continue referring civilians to military courts," Whitson said.
"(Mursi's) committee will not have the mandate to look at these more recent cases because it will only look at convictions up until June 30, 2012," the report said, referring to the date when the army officially handed over power.
The report said a presidential pardon was the only way an unfair decision by a military court could be overturned.
Ukrainian military spokesman says separatists were firing heavy weapons banned under a peace agreement
Eight ISIL militants and six other rebels were killed by Russia's different security forces
In new video, militant group calls on militants to fight Nigerian, AU troops now deployed in Chad, Niger, Cameroon
Critics asked why a country that is already not industrially developed should commit itself to reducing emissions
The UK government will crackdown on rogue landlords who make money out of illegal immigration, exploiting vulnerable people
Greek stocks lose over 22% in value as exchange reopens having been closed 5 weeks
It would be impossible two years ago because the whole postwar security system wouldn't allow that, says Ukrainian President
Congress in Ankara ends with call for international action against Russian annexation
A new loan tranche will be given to Kiev in return for promised reform.
French police have sprayed refugees with chemical irritant as they tried enter the Channel Tunnel
IAAF test data has been leaked to news organisations allegedly showing suspect samples from athletes, including Olympic and world championship medallists.
The Czech President has told migrants to leave if they don't like living in Czechoslovakia.
Two Malian soldiers were killed when armed men placed explosives on a road near a convoy.
Israeli police briefly entered the mosque during those clashes to shut the doors and lock rioters inside.
In an interview published today, former Greek Prime Minister said that Spain needs to evaluate its country's needs, especially if it is to impose any austerity measures.