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In The First Enforcement Of The Decree Of Prohibiting Strikes The Military Court Sentenced Five Workers In Petrojet Company To One Year In Prison With Suspension


In the first enforcement of the decree 34/2011 of prohibiting strikes , the military court ruled in the case 2535/2011 military misdemeanors. The court sentenced five workers in Petrojet company to one year in prison with suspension as they among others staged a protest sit in front of the ministry of oil during work hours.

On 1/6/2011, military police arrested five workers who staged a protest sit in together with 200 colleagues protesting not giving them permanent contracts for allegedly terminated temporary contracts. Some workers have spent 10 years in Petrojet company and should be given permanent contracts as per the minister decision. However the company would not follow the decision , so the workers staged a sit in in front of the ministry of oil.

Ministry security asked them to break the sit in , but workers refused. So ministry security arrested five : Ahmed elSayed, Khamis Mohamed, Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Mohamed Ibrahim and Mohamed Kamal. Security led them into ministry premises , beat them and reported them to military police for “breaking in the ministry”. They were tried on allegations of disturbing work at the ministry. Military prosecution demanded the workers be penalized as per article #1 of decree 34/2011 of prohibiting strikes as well as articles #5a and #48 of the military provisions law . The first article ,5a, states the right of military court to review crimes committed in military places whereas article 48 gives the military judiciary the right to decide the crimes of which it is competent.

The first hearing was held on 6/6/2011. The case was adjourned more than 9 times. The sentence hearing was held on 29/6/2011 were the court ruled a suspended one year imprisonment.

Lawyers of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights argued that the military court is incompetent of trying civilians as the crime was not committed on military premises or against military personnel, gear or funds. They argued unconstitutionality of article 48 of military judiciary being contrary to constitution of ’71 and the constitutional declaration. Granting absolute power to military judiciary is an encroachment in defining its competency . Article 51 of the constitutional declaration and article 13 of constitution gave power to legislator to regulate military judiciary according to constitutional principals.

Article 176 of the constitution and article 50 of the constitutional declaration made the courts competency according to a law not by a decision from a judicial power whether military or civil.

Lawyers argued that applying the decree of prohibiting strikes is illegal as the decree is only valid under emergency law declared by the presidential decision 126/2010. Emergency state was dropped by issuing the constitutional declaration on 30/3/2011 as it set different conditions to declare Emergency state different that those of the constitution of ’71.

ECESR lawyers stated that the state of emergency is declared to combat certain crimes, exclusively terrorism and drug trade. Staging a sit in could hardly be considered as terrorism as the workers did no harm to public property , public order or work flow. Workers did not risk public peace , they staged a sit in demanding work rights which is legitimate according to national laws and international treaties.

Lawyers argued the prevalence of charge and asked why 5 workers  only of 200 were  tried. Lawyers asked for solid facts that those 5 workers disturbed and impeded work at the ministry of oil.

However, the military court overlooked all those arguments and sentenced the workers.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights demands the military court not to ratify this provision and to refer the case to a normal civil court.

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