Egypt constitution body finalises judicial articles
Ahram Online, Monday 18 Nov 2013
Committee spokesman Mohamed Salmawy says 50-member body will finish work by end of November; Military articles still up for vote

Mohamed Salmawy, spokesman for the 50-member committee tasked with writing the final draft of Egypt's new constitution, announced on Monday that the committee has finished voting on articles related to judicial authority.

According to Salmawy, the only articles that remain for vote are those regarding the military, a transitional article on the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the constitution's preamble.

He added that the committee is expected to finish its work by the end of November.

Among the most controversial army-related articles in the constitution is the one concerning military trials of civilians.

Article 198 in the suspended 2012 constitution states that civilians may not be tried before military courts, except for crimes that "harm the armed forces" and are specified by law.

The article has sparked public debate, as rights activists campaign to amend the article to completely prohibit military trials for civilians.

There have been several suggestions to amend the controversial article so that the new draft allows military trials only for crimes that "represent a direct assault on the armed forces."

Egypt's 2012 constitution, drafted by an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, was suspended pending amendment following the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Once an amended draft is finalised, the constitutional committee will refer the charter to Interim President Adly Mansour before it is put up for national referendum. Parliamentary, and then presidential, elections will follow.