The board of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate issued a statement on Wednesday urging Egyptian journalists to register opposition to the longstanding practice of referring civilians to military courts.
While the practice had been widely employed by the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, it has continued under Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The syndicate statement called on journalists to be steadfast in defence of the right of civilians charged with legal offences to be tried by civilian judges, as is guaranteed by Egypt’s constitution.
The move represents the first statement by a professional syndicate or trade union to openly criticise the practice.
In the nine months since Egypt’s Tahrir uprising, a number of journalists have been summoned for questioning by military prosecutors for publishing articles critical of the SCAF. These include journalists Hossam El-Hamalawy, Rasha Azab, Adel Hammouda and Nabil Sharaf El-Din.
Earlier this month, military prosecutors summoned journalist Mohamed El-Daba of independent weekly Sout El-Umma after he published an article alleging that the son of SCAF member Major-General Mamdouh Shahin had been granted an academic position simply because of his father’s exalted position.
However, El-Daba, a civilian, has stated his refusal to comply with the summons to register his opposition to being subject to military prosecution.