Judges will not budge on Judiciary Independence Bill

A forum was held under the auspices of the Egyptian Judges’ Club Tuesday June 20, 2006, hosting MPs, professors, writers and politicians who called on the government to lift its hands off the judiciary and not to proceed with its judiciary authority bill without considering the amendments recommended by the judges.

The judges called on all the deputies in parliament, especially those in the National Democratic ruling party, to make the national interests their top priority over any partisan issues. Judges also asked the opposition-Ikhwan and independents- to adopt amendments suggested by the Judges’ Club.

Addressing the attendees, Judges Club Chairman, Chief Justice Zakarya Abdul Aziz, reviewed the Club’s historical role and highlighted its right to participate in discussions of any issues concerning the judges, an implicit reply to what the Parliament speaker said before that the issue in question [judiciary reform bill] is out of the  Judges’ Club  jurisdiction, a statement which was rejected by Abdul Aziz citing two rulings issued by the Administrative Judiciary Court and the Higher Constitutional Court which upheld the ruling that the Club is empowered  to participate in any discussions concerning its members,  especially when it comes to the issue of independence of judiciary authority. This was seconded by chief justice Tarek el Beshry the former Vice President of the State Council, who equated the attitudes of the legislature and executive authorities toward the Judiciary authority with occupation, calling for an end of such attitudes. Al Beshry stressed that the Minister of Justice should play the role of a coordinator between both the judiciary and executive authorities, considering this as a prerequisite for separation between the two powers.

On the government bill, chief justice al Beshry said that it has seven flaws, foremost among which are  the role of the Judges’ Club ,the limits of the of the President’s authority, and the Authority of Disciplinary Council. Although a prominent judiciary figure, Chief Justice Ahmed Mekki, found some positive items in the government bill, he said that the bill, however, doesn’t lead to the independence of the judiciary authority. Some Members of Parliament who attended the forum, voiced their pessimism over the government ’ attitude “We called on the government to invite the judges for a preliminary hearing sessions before discussing the bill in parliament” said MP Hussein Ibrahim the deputy chairman of the MB parliamentary bloc ” but the government proceeded with its bill without convening judges, which presages a crisis” he said.

Dr. Hassan Nafaa, head of the Political Sciences Department, Cairo University, attributed the failure of the regime to accept the independence of judiciary authority to several reasons foremost among which is that the government doesn’t want free and fair election so that it continues to take control of the passage of laws and legislation to its favor. Nafaa ruled out that NDP members will come to their senses, saying that they are more   civil servants than representatives of the people.

Chief Justice Mahmoud el Khodary told the MPs attending the forum that they will experience a difficult test next week when they cast their votes in the parliament over the government’s judiciary bill, reminding the MPs that they failed in the tests of emergency law and the municipality law, and that ” your success in the coming test may make up for your past failures”

For his part, Dr. Mohammed el Sayed Said the deputy chairman of al Ahram Center for Political Studies, slammed the government for reject the bill presented by the Judges ’ Club. He said that there is a battle between advocates of the rule of law vis a vis those advocates of lawlessness

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