The rights organization said Egyptian lawmakers during the weekend backed amendments to the country's code of military justice but did little to end the expansion of the military's trial of civilians.
Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Middle East and North African affairs at HRW, said she was shocked that elected lawmakers weren't taking basic steps to protect the rights of Egyptian civilians.
"Parliament's failure to ban a major abuse of the military government betrays campaign promises to deliver justice to all Egyptians," she said in a statement from New York.
More than 12,000 civilians, including children, faced military trials in Egypt last year. The rights organization says that's more than the number of military trials during the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian security climate is tense as the country prepares for its first post-revolutionary presidential election amid growing frustration with the military leadership. Several demonstrators died last week during political violence in the country.
There are 13 candidates competing for president. Elections run two days starting May 23. A runoff vote, if needed, is to begin June 16 with the new president taking his seat June 21.