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Judges Reject New Bill Targeting Their Independence
Judges Reject New Bill Targeting Their Independence
Surprises continue after the judiciary bill recently prepared by the Ministry of Justice. This bill has been unanimously rejected during the general assembly of the Judges’ Club during which the outgoing board headed by judge Zakariya Abdul Aziz has been reelected for another term.
Friday, December 7,2007 09:28
by Nadin Abdullah - Mohamed Ismail IkhwanWeb

Surprises continue after the judiciary bill recently prepared by the Ministry of Justice. This bill has been unanimously rejected during the general assembly of the Judges" Club during which the outgoing board headed by judge Zakariya Abdul Aziz has been reelected for another term. This bill has been rejected the Judges Club General Assembly members because of the powers it gives to the Minister of Justice, powers which they see as an intervention from the part on of the executive authority in the judicial authority in a way endangering its independence .
Zakariya Abdul Aziz announced during the assembly held on Friday Dec, 1st, 2007, that the Ministry of Justice responded to their demands and cancelled the item related to retirement age during a phone call with the Minister of Justice. Also, the judges received a phone call from the presidency regarding their demands and that they want them addressed.
Judge Mahmoud Makki said that all Egyptian citizens should call for such demands and to declare their rejection to the judiciary bill. He added that the judges expect citizens to be up to the responsibility and have the same attitude towards the assaults against the independence of the judges.
Makki saw that the president"s reaction of accepting and respecting the demands of the judges is a natural result to the judges" moves and meetings. He added that such a response from the president should have been taken along time ago.
He also expressed his hope that this move will be a turning point in the way judges are dealt with. This is due to the fact that the judges represent a part of the three main authorities of the state and they aren"t a group of opponents unlike rumours circulated by those government vetted protégées who try to distort the image of the judges.
He added that the judges demands should be taken into consideration specially when these demands are related to protecting their independence and immunity.
It is worth mentioning is that the Ministry of Justice sent- before holding the general assembly- a notice to the courts in which it announced it is ready to pay suspended payments for Counselors and giving them an equal treatment of chief justices like their colleagues in the State Council after they received final rulings. The ministry confirmed- according to some judges- that the due money will be paid in installments.
Judge Mahmoud Makki touted this step from the government, saying it should take effect through starting to implement it on the ground and listening to the demands of the judges for the sake of the Egyptian citizen.
Asked whether the president will break his promise with the judged like what he did with the journalists- when he promised not to sent to ajil any journalist while five editors-in-chief are currently jailed- Makki said:" No one can deny the role of the press and media in general in showing the public opinion what the Egyptian judges demand, demands which will eventually add to securing the rights of the Egyptian citizens. However, their a difference between the case of the judges and the case of the press due to the nature and job of both of them. The judicial authority is one of the three main authorities of the state. It must be respected for this position. He added that the government would ruin itself if it dealt with the judges in the same way it deals with journalists.
He added that the judicial authority is the basis of any state. He indicated also that the way to respecting journalists and protecting them from the tyranny of the executive authority is through the judicial independence. He cited some court rulings against editors-in-chief and journalists which stunned not only the press community but the public opinion as well.
He confirmed that despite these faulty texts that legalized jailing journalists, the independent unbiased judge can without surrendering to pressures from the executive authority- rescind the prison sentence and issue only fines.
Makki pointed out that the bill lodged by the Ministry of Justice- if implemented without any amendment- would have dealt a death blow to the judicial independence and immunity.
He explained that the defects of the bill aren"t only related to article five related to immunity- which the Ministry of Justice cancelled and amended a paragraph about the budget. There are many other defects in the bill which the judges reject as a whole.
The judge said that preventing such an assault on the justice and people"s rights can only be attained through taking strong attitudes and that the judges community remain on alert towards any attack targeting their independence and immunity. Makki said that the judges learned this lesson after their will was disrespected and sidelined in previous legislations which were issued against their will.

Posted in Reform Issues , Human Rights , Judges Activites  
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