Egyptian Judges’ Heated General Assembly Warns Regime
The Egyptian judges’ General Assembly, held in the Judges’ Club on Friday Nov. 17th, 2006, was unique. It was a new uprising of judges, in which they demanded not only the independence of the judicial authority, full supervision on elections and lifting the financial ban over the judges’ club, but they also demanded the freedom of the nation, canceling emergencies, implementing judicial rulings, especially those of the Courts of Cassation against vote riggings in the latest People’s Assembly elections in some constituencies ( Bander Damanhour, Dokki, and First Areesh)
The judges demanded also to lift guardianship over the professional syndicates. They demanded the government to stop its hostility to the Egyptian people including all its sections, and to hold a frank dialogue with the nation, instead of other kinds of dialogue like those of cultures and civilizations whose intentions are suspected.
The General Assembly members materialized their support to all these demands, which head of the Judges’ Club, counselor Zakaria Abdel Aziz raised, through selecting Abdel Aziz’s list in the mid-term elections, which took place ahead of the General Assembly Conference. Counselor Ahmad Saber won the elections together with judges: Ashraf Zahran, Asharf Ibrahim Eliwa, Ahmad Al-Fekki and Mohammed Ahmad Mekki.
Judges’ Club witnessed a noticeably stormy General Assembly session since its beginning. The Assembly got more heated after the speech of counselor, Ahmad Saber, who confirmed that the judges realized three out of the six important directions, which they demanded in their draft over the judicial authority independence, lodged last year. The First: that the Executive Authority no longer controls the judicial authority and; thus, the Justice Minister has no authority over the judges any more, except in two matters: the assistant Justice Minister for judicial inspection and two thirds of the medicare and social care budget, which is mainly owned by the judges, and the ministry’s task is to supervise it. “The judges will restore this money by any means” he added.
The Second: there are two degrees in the judicial authority with no influence of Supreme Committee over judges. The Third: a big part of budget was transferred to the Supreme Judicial Council.
“Last year was named the Year of Judges for two reasons: the judges’ commitment to pressing for the independence of the judicial authority and the integrity of the elections. He said that Judges’ Club has been named “Nation House” because the people and judges’ demands are the same. He thanked, in this respect, the Egyptian people due to their deep interest in the independence of the judicial authority, putting them on an equal footing with the civilized nations that have previously realized this.
The counselor added that the incumbent Justice Minister, Mamdouh Marie, rejected holding a dialogue with the judges although they strongly believe that it is very important. He referred to the former Ministers of Justice who were holding dialogues with the judges, praising, in this respect, former Ministers of Justice, counselor Mahmoud Abu Al-Leel and counselor Farouk Seef Al-Naser.
Counselor Saber refused to speak about both the situations and statements of the Minister of Justice, Mamdouh Marie, since he assumed the post, saying, “We do not want to waste our time, we have something more important, the General Assembly’s agenda.
He only addressed the Minister of Justice, saying:” You are welcome if you will treat us like judges, but if you will treat us like enemies, you would not bear it”.
Head of the Judges’ Club, counselor Zakariya Abdel Aziz, confirmed in his speech that the Club board formed a committee for a new judicial authority law that would materialize all aspirations of independence. He stressed on the demands of both the Club and the judges, briefing them in certain points. The first of which is rejecting to extend the judge’s retirement age for the third time. He urged the Supreme Judicial Council to unveil the truth over preparing to appoint women in the Public Prosecution.
He spoke of the deteriorating situation in Egypt, especially on the level of freedom. He demanded ending the state of emergency, especially the exceptional laws, so that the citizen would only appear before an actual judge. Prisons should follow the Ministry of Justice. Authority of investigation and accusation should be separated while giving the Court of Cassation the power of deciding the case.
After the Authorities have recently banned several citizens from traveling abroad (mainly MB leaders), Zakariya Abdel Aziz demanded to organize this travel ban through some sort of a law.
Concerning implementing the court rulings, especially those of the Court of Cassation, the head of the Judges’ Club warned the Executive Authority against continuously neglecting these rulings. He stressed that the Court of Cassation’s rulings of canceling the fake results of the latest People’s Assembly elections in some constituencies should be implemented (especially in Bander Damanhour, Dokki, Damietta and Areesh about which counselor Aziz Fahmy wrote a report about vote rigging). He also demanded that those who were involved should be punished. He asked for a full judicial supervision over all kinds of elections, both presidential and parliamentary. Otherwise, they will be abandoned altogether.
Counselor Abdel Aziz demanded, along with the Club’s demands, the society’s independence, topped by the judicial authority to the professional syndicates. He demanded canceling articles 2 &3 of Law no. 100/93 over democracy of the guarantees organizing the syndicate elections, pressing for lifting the guardianship over some of these syndicates, especially the syndicates of the Engineers and Alex. Doctors and with a freedom of holding elections there, to be supervised by professionals in every syndicate.
He went on criticizing the Egyptian government, accusing it of being hostile to all sections of the nation, including students, workers and syndicates. He demanded the regime to hold a dialogue with the nation instead of adopting a hostile policy and holding dialogues of civilizations and cultures, which are sought by the government and repeated by the government. The chief justice of the Court of Appeal, counselor Ahamd Suliman, gave a phone call from UAE on behalf of the Egyptian judges there. He delivered an acceptance speech for the Judges’ Club board, headed by counselor Zakariya Abdel Aziz, demanding the Council to continue fighting for the Egyptian judicial authority independence and that the council members should not forsake the nation that resorted to the Judges.
Suliman confirmed that abusing the judicial authority would destroy the last pillar of the state, revealing that the regime’s recent fierce attack against the judges took place because of testimonies of some honest judges over vote rigging in the latest parliamentary elections.
Counselor Suliman also confirmed, at the end of his speech, confirmed the commitment of those judges, delegated abroad, to supporting the reformist demands over the full independence of the judicial authority, saying, “Stop controlling the judicial authority and give it its full rights. We declare our full and absolute support to the attitude of the Judges’ Club and its board. We also declare that we fully reject that any authority would control the Club except its board. Judicial Authority should fully supervise or never supervise the elections”.
In a gesture of help to the Club against the financial crisis due to the economic ban imposed by the Ministry of Justice, Suliman confirmed that the delegated judges approve any increase in the Club membership subscription.
Speaking about the Club board achievements, counselor Ahmad Mekki- head of the Club’s committee of activating the decisions – hailed the Council’s role in the last period. He rejected what Ahmad Saber said that the judges realized their independence through getting rid of the Justice Minister’s control over the judges. He indicated that the amendment, which the People’s Assembly approved in the previous sessions over the judicial authority law, did not achieve all ambitions of judges over full independence.
Mekki strongly condemned the financial ban over the Judges Club and condemned that the Justice Minister, Mamdouh Marie ignored the Club Board’s call to hold talks over their problems. He described this behavior as some sort of arrogance and a shameful act in the Egyptian history. There was no political maturity in tackling the Judges’ Club crisis. He stressed that the judges’ issue has nothing to do with money but with independence.
Counselor Mekki attacked the Justice Minister fiercely, saying that any Egyptian judge was much valuable than the Minister of Justice. He added that the judges would not hold meetings outside the Club, to be interrupted by the applauding of the audience attending the session.
Mekki enthusiastically addressed President Mubarak, saying, “We are telling Mubarak that King Farouk established the Judges’ Club according to Milan Agreement – Egypt was a member in it- that the Club was one of the pillars of independence, why don’t we get it now”. He indicated that Saddam Hussein was tried in Al-Dujail Case due to establishing exceptional courts.
The General Assembly approved the final report of the Judges’ Club budget in the period from 1-1-2005 to 30-9-2005, which judge Khaled Quraa presented. The Assembly approved also the report on the Club activities from Dec. 19th, 2005 to Nov. 16th, 2006 which judge Asharf Zahran presented.
Although some judges demanded not to review this report so as not to waste time, counselor Zakariya Abdel Aziz, the head of the Club, insisted on doing so. He said, “We would review the report to end rumors that the Club board achieved nothing and because the Club can’t send this report to every judge”.
Results of the midterm elections of the Club board that started on Friday morning were declared before the Club General Assembly. The list of counselor Zakariya Abdel Aziz won; it included: counselor Ahmad Saber for counselors in addition to Asharf Zahran, Asharf Ibrahim Eliwa, Ahmad Al-Fekki and Mohamed Ahmad Mekki for judges. This confirmed that judges supported the demands of the current board over the full independence of the judicial authority.
After head of the Court of Appeal, counselor Mahmoud Zakki declared the final results of the elections, judges demanded to declare the details of the election process on the level of the turnout and the number of votes which every candidate won. The chief justice of the Court of Appeal pointed out that the number of members registered in the rolls are 10030 votes, including 978 sound votes and 21 wrong ones.
Ahmad Saber garnered 823 votes against 134 for Salah Al-Deen Ahmad Rezk. Ahmad Al-Fekki got 892, Asharf Ibrahim Eliwa, 912, Asharf Zahran 917, Mohammed Ahmad Mekki 829 and Mohammed Al-Kurdi got 278 votes.
In an exclusive statement to “Ikhwanweb”, Mahmoud Al-Khodeiri, head of the Judges’ Club in Alexandria, confirmed that these elections and their results confirm the judges’ insistence on standing against the Executive Authority’s control over the Legislative Authority.
Al-Khodeiri declared that the Club is ready to hold dialogues with any foreign organization whatsoever its nationality is, provided that: first: an Egyptian government representative should attend and a notice would be enough in case of rejection. Second: the dialogue should be held in Arabic and in the Club headquarters. Third: the dialogue should be further held on judges, not over the policy of the current regime.
Mekki criticized the Egyptian regime’s attitude towards judges, journalists, engineers, workers, students and other sections of society. He confirmed that the judges aren’t prevented from speaking in politics. Yet, they must not follow any political faction.