The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services follows with deep concern the trial of twenty-five workers (including one female) from the navy before military courts and the continued imprisonment of thirteen workers some for more than forty days and the displacement of others by forcing them to flee and their only fault is to exercise their legitimate constitutional rights of peaceful assembly.
The naval arsenal workers had staged a peaceful protest on the 22nd and 23rd of May demanding the implementation of the minimum wages which was endorsed by the government. The minimum wages were applied for six months and then stopped.
Among the demands of the protest were activating the stalled workshops, providing necessary elements of industrial security to ensure the safety of workers, activating stalled promotions, adjusting the calculation of the incentive system as well as increasing the grant for Ramadan and Minor Bairam and the company paying its debt to the fellowship fund as the contributions are deducted from the monthly wages of the workers.
As the company's management has consistently refused to negotiate with the workers and ignored their demands, the workers notified it of their peaceful protest and their intention to hold a sit-in at the company starting from the following day (May 24) until their demands are met or satisfactory solutions are reached. On the day they were surprised to find the gates of the companies closed and military police surrounding the company to prevent them from entering. (These facts were documented in the official complaint to the police which they issued at the Minya al-Basal police station on May 25.)
The company has been shutdown since that day. Thirteen male workers were arrested and one female worker was released pending the case (Ms. Samar Hanafi Abdo Hanafi). The military prosecutor summoned eleven other workers. Then the Supreme Alexandria Military Prosecution decided to refer the defendants in the military misdemeanor case No. 2759 for the year 2016 to military trial. Their names are as follows: Mohamed Tawfiq Ali Moussa, Abdel Razek Morsy Abdel Razek, Samer Ibrahim Al Sayed Mohamed, Ismail Mohamed Ismail Mohamed, Islam Zarif Abdul Aziz, Moemen Mohammed Mimi Mohammed, Karim Hemedia Sultan Hamouda, Ihab Sami Zaki Mohammed, Mohamed Gouda Mohammed Ibrahim, Mohammed Mahmoud Al Sayed Mahmoud, Farouk Al Sayed Ibrahim Mohammed, Mohammed Bassiouni Ali Farag, Ali Ibrahim Ali Abdul Rahman, Samar HanafiAbdoHanafi, Mohamed Morsy Ramadan Ismail, Amr Hamdy El Shazly Ahmed, Shaban Gamal Hussein Mahmoud, Essam Abdel Rahman Ali, Ahmed RasmyFaragChalabi, Mohamed Adel Mohamed Ahmed, Al Sayed Yassin Gabriel Mohammed, Mohammed Hassan Ahmed Awad, Ahmed Morsy Abdel-Razeq, Islam Al Sayed Mahmoud Yaqut, Ashraf Hamdy Mohamed Gad.
The referral was for accusations of committing crimes stipulated in Articles 1,2 and 3 of 124 and articles 124 / A / 1,4 of the Penal Code because the workers "in their capacity as public servants at the company which is affiliated with the marine services and industries at the Ministry of Defense incited workers of various sectors of the company to refrain from work upon a call to organize a protest within the company with the intention of impeding the progress of work requiring a common purpose which is to achieve their demands set out in the report of the security sector of the company which was attached to the investigations. This would have caused disruption to all sectors of the company and harm to the public interest. "
The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services would like to highlight the following points:
First: Trial before military judiciary
Article 204 of the Constitution of 2014 states that "the military judiciary is an independent judicial body tasked solely with reviewing cases that involve crimes related to the armed forces, its officers, its members and the like as well as crimes of the members of the General Intelligence during and because of the service.
A civilian may not be put on trial before military courts except in crimes that represent a direct attack on military installations, armed forces camps or equivalents, military areas or border areas as well as equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, documents, military secrets, its public funds, military factories, crimes related to recruitment, or crimes that represent a direct assault on military officers or members as they perform their businesses and jobs."
The norm - which should not be surpassed except in minimal cases and for reasons that outweigh the importance of due considerations in a democratic society - is that the citizen should be put on trial in front of an ordinary court and should not be tried in front of military judiciary. The constitutional article has been extended in cases which permits provoking this norm – which should be an exception - but the justification given during the preparation of the Constitution - as we all remember, and, as can be read in minutes of the committee to draft the constitution - is that the situations of trial before military courts is exclusively for the best because it excludes all else and it is not permissible to regard any other cases within the exceptional circumstances that necessitate a trial before military courts.
Even though we agreed on the 2014 constitution, we were and still are objecting to the inclusion of military factories among properties that if assaulted the person may be out on trial before a military court. The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services submitted then a memorandum on the workers' views concerning constitution to the Committee drafting it including objection to the inclusion of military factories in this context and alerting the possibility of workers tried before military courts if exercising their legitimate rights to strike and peaceful assembly.
Let us all remember also that the representatives of the armed forces in the committee during the proceedings totally ruled out peaceful assembly and strikes as cases which may justify military trials for civilians asserting that the text of the article clearly contains a requirement of a direct assault on the military facility.
Based on the aforementioned we emphasize the following:
The action is the main focus, not the status of the facility.
The expansion in the cases of the trial of civilians before military courts, which are inherently exception origin .. on the inherent right to trial before the ordinary judiciary with all the guarantees and rights associated constitutes dangerous Balgh- on Alo_khas- with the increasing role of the armed forces in carrying out economic activities, and direction to manage or participate in the management or supervision of some units of the public business sector, which threatens to increase the exceptional cases in which civilians on trial before military courts really lose their intrinsic rights of the community .. to lose their civility and the important foundations supposedly built on them.
Secondly, Article 124 of the Penal Code
Military prosecutors accuse the Navy shipyard workers referred to military trial of committing crimes stipulated in Article 124 of the Penal Code. We need to reaffirm here that this article is copied and is no longer there as ruled by the Emergency Supreme State Security Court in the issue of rail workers strike in 1986, in a landmark ruling that should not be forgotten. Egypt has also signed the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights and committed to it including making it part of the Egyptian legislation refuting previous provisions that contradict it.
As the International Covenant of Human Economic, Social and Cultural Rights enshrines the right to strike as a fundamental human right, signing the convention and abiding by it refutes previous legislative texts. Accordingly, the Court ruled to consider article 124 of the Egyptian Penal Code annulled as soon as the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights was signed.
The same basis was used by the Administrative Court in Tanta in its ruling in the case of strike by workers of carpet factories.
When the allegation against maritime workers is committing crimes stipulated in Article 124, and this article does not exist, the indictment is supposed to be void.
Third: The acts of the accused Navy shipyard workers who were referred to military trial
Regardless of the fact that all what the Navy shipyard workers, public officials or others, did - according to the indictment - is a call to gather and organize a protest seeking to achieve a common purpose of which is their demands.
The call for peaceful protest rally in order to achieve their demands previously set was all what was done. Anything else was assumptions and inspection of intentions presuming harming the public interest.
Therein lies the problem: Dealing with peaceful labor movement with this narrow security perspective which views it as damaging to the public interest, the interests of workers and their basic needs. What about it? What about those who are facing their children's needs before the feast and have a hard time being sufficient with the seventy five pounds the value the armed forces grants on this occasion? What about the elements of social justice which is demanded by all Egyptians, the right to fair pay and equality of promotion; the right to live in dignity, medical treatment and adequate housing; the right to social security. What about the rights of workers who are surprised at the end of the service that they are not rewarded upon retirement and they do not have the right to negotiate their demands and pressure in order to express their interests and achieve their demands.
They and other segments of society have their interests and rights that should be expressed. They may be contradictory, but it is necessary to negotiate in order to achieve a balance and some sort of stability in the community.
What threatens the public interest is a waste of the requirements of social justice, the deprivation of workers of their rights to genuine democracy in the expression of their interests and negotiating them, their right to strike, peaceful assembly and to choose their representatives freely. What threatens the public interest is closing outlets of expression and peaceful assembly to have angry protest seep in hazardous paths.
The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services demands to stop the trial of naval shipyard workers in Case No. 2759 for the year 2016 at the military court in Alexandria and the immediate release of the imprisoned workers remanded in custody pending the case. CTUWS also stresses the inadmissibility of military trials for civilian workers and the inadmissibility of referring them to military courts when they exercise their right to strike or peaceful assembly.
Drop all restrictions on the rights to strike and peaceful assembly and freedom of associations for a balanced and stable society.
The Center for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS)