Rights Watchdog Warns Of Gov’t Crackdown On Judges’ Club

Sawaseya Center for Human Rights and Prevention of Discrimination (SCHR) condemned the government for the measures it has taken to crackdown on the Egyptian Judges Club, said a statement released on Wednesday November 15, 2006- a copy of which was obtained by Ikhwanweb.

SCHR said that the government has targeted the Club after its disclosure of violations in the recent parliamentary elections, citing the recent measures taken by the Ministry of Justice against the Club. The statement expressed the center’s full support for the position of the Club in its political showdown with the government.

The Ministry of Justice has recently withheld the financial aid once provided to the Club, up to millions of pounds, a matter which the Club is due to discuss in its general assembly meeting scheduled this week. The government- Judges’ club showdown started when parliament passed, last June, a government bill for amending the Judiciary Law. The amendments were criticized by reformist and independent judges, citing the failure of these amendments to meet their essential demands or even achieve the minimum independence of the judges from the Executive Authority.

The Centre lamented- in its statement- that stopping the Ministry’s financial aid is not the first or the only measure taken by the Ministry to impede the Judges’ Club’s reformist role. The government National Bank has recently decided to freeze a project launched by the Club to help judges to finance cars through soft loans. The ministry cancelled also a project for facilitating procedures of hajj for judges, a project which the Club has been organizing throughout the past years. The project was referred, instead, to local offices set up by the Ministry of Justice in each court as of last September to be a substitute for the services once rendered by the Club.

The statement warned that the recent government measures against the Judges Club are aimed to cause splits within the judges after their unified stand in defending the judges’ interests, and the course of action taken by the Club to save the reputation and independence of the Judiciary Authority. The Centre called on the government not to deny the reformist and independent judges their freedom of expression. It warned that the current policy gives way for the Executive Authority to gobble up the Judiciary as it did with the Legislative authority, saying that this attitude will not work in favor of the multiparty system or reform in the country.