The New York based Human Rights Watch has strongly appealed to the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to drop all charges against the blogger Maikel Nabil for his internet blog post critical of the military.
"It's pretty stunning in Egypt's supposed new era of rights to see the military government prosecuting someone in a military court for writing about the military," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era."
The right to freedom of expression, including writing that criticizes the military, is protected under international human rights agreements to which Egypt is a party, Human Rights Watch said. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in article 9 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in article 19 obligate Egypt to protect free expression. Under international law, restrictions on freedom of expression must be strictly limited to meet a legitimate aim.
Human Rights Watch strongly opposes any trials of civilians before military courts, the proceedings of which do not protect due process rights. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, in interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, has said that military courts "should not, in any circumstances whatsoever, have jurisdiction over civilians."
"The Supreme Military Council, in its caretaker role, is supposed to protect and uphold the rights of Egyptians to express themselves, however critical their views may be," Whitson said. "The Egyptian army should understand that it is no more immune from criticism than former President Mubarak."
Watch Aljazeera report on the arrest and trial of Maikel Nabil:
In the meantime the trial against blogger Maikel Nabil, who has been in military custody now for over a week, was again postponed today and will resume on Sunday, April 10. Demonstrations in front of the military court in support of Maikel Nabil are planned.
If you want to help Maikel in his quest to get free, go here.
HRW - Drop Charges Against Blogger Critical of Military