Judges Threaten to Adjourn Courts’ Sessions and organize Sit ins

Judges have threatened to escalate their confrontation with the government if does not back down from its decision to refer Counselors Ahmed Makki and Hisham el-Bastaweesy to the Fitness Determination Board. They said they would resort to adjourning sessions and organizing sit-ins and all kinds of protests if the government did not correct its position.

Counselor Mahmoud al-Khudhairi said that Judges would escalate their attitude and respond strongly to any action to be taken against them by the Ministry of Justice, stressing that the Board of the Judges Union would hold a meeting, Tuesday, 18 April 2006, to discuss the modalities of escalation and all other matters related to government escalation against judges. They would discuss all options and proposals aimed at responding to the government escalation.

Al-Khudhairi added, “what happened is the beginning of a new ‘massacre’ against judges” (a reference to an all-out repression against judges in 1969 by the Nasser regime, in which large numbers of judges were dismissed). He affirmed that the rank and file of judges felt sorrow and apprehension, stressing that the State was supposed to punish those who had committed abuses during the elections and not those who uncovered those abuses. Referral to the Disciplinary or Fitness Determination Board, he said, is an action taken whenever a judge commits a very serious offence, which is not the case of with Counselors Hisham al-Bastaweesy and Ahmed Makki whose only offence was their attempt to combat rigging the elections. The decision taken by the Minister of Justice, he added, is a very harsh one.

Al-Khudhairi’s statements were made following a government escalation against judges, the latest step of which was to refer Counselors Ahmed Makki and Hisham el-Bastaweesy, deputies of the president of the Court of Cassation, to the Fitness Determination Board in accordance with a demand by the Prosecutor-General, Mr. Maher Abdel-Wahid.

For his part, Counselor Hisham Geneina, member of the Board of the Judges Union, emphasized that the decision to refer both counselors to the Fitness Determination Board (FDB) should be regarded as an order of honor awarded to them, and as an illustration of the consequences for someone of his call for reform. He denounced the way the referral decision was made and announced and its timing.

Geneina explained that so far the reasons for referring the two counselors to the FDB had not been made public, although the two colleagues had asked the competent authority to tell them the reasons and circumstances of the referral so as to be able to prepare their replies to accusations that may be made before the FDB.

Geneina attributed the referral decision to the views that the judges had disseminated via various media regarding their demand for an independent judiciary, their approval of the relevant draft law submitted by the Judges Union, based on the version that was unanimously approved by the judges at their General Assembly meeting, in addition to their observations on the defects of the presidential and parliamentary elections which they supervised.