The issue of reforming Egypt’s Judiciary is on the mind of many columnists in today’s papers. The project for reforming the Judiciary was submitted to the Shura Council on Wednesday 17 April, followed by a protest on Friday 19 April demanding the same thing, which was called for by the Muslim Brotherhood.
On the Judiciary crisis
Al Shourouk Newspaper
Columnist Fahmy Howeidy, a known sympathiser with the ruling entity, decided to go back in history to ponder over the independence of the Judiciary. He referenced what is known as the “judges’ massacre” in 1969 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. He also mentioned Judge Yehia Al-Refaay’s statement in 2002, where he mourned the end of justice.
He then went back to India’s history in the forties, quoting a judge –whose name was not mentioned– saying that “history has witnessed that whenever the ruling authorities dominated and raised weapons in the face of freedom and justice, courts were the tools used to destroy whomever they wanted”. He also mentioned how former president Hosni Mubarak was the reason behind raising the age of retirement for judges, saying that “he wanted to keep certain judges so that he could achieve what he wanted”.
He blamed those who raised the issue in the Shura Council, saying that they picked the wrong time to do so, and arguing that those who were against the motion failed to see the point, which is reinforcing the “independence” of the judges.
An attempt to defuse the Judiciary crisis
Columnist Salah Eissa, also broached the subject. He opened his column by insisting that there are many Egyptians (from the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups) who are capable of solving the “conflict between the three constitutional authorities: executive, legislative and judicial”. However, he deemed the name of the project, “Purging Egypt’s Judiciary”, to be an insulting name for an insulting project. He mentioned two meetings that will take place this week: the Judges’ Club meeting for the General Assembly members on Sunday 28 April, and the presidential meeting which will be attended by representatives of the different bodies within the Judiciary and should take place on Sunday or Monday.
He mentions that the president is attending the meeting as “a neutral referee” and not as part of the conflict. Eissa also mentions that people are not supposed to think that there are any ties between the president, the Shura Council and the Al-Wasat Party, who are responsible for submitting the project. He said that any ties implied should be instantly “deleted” from people’s minds, including that the idea of decreasing the judges’ retirement age to 60 was submitted in November with the constitutional declaration. However, after pressure from Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki, it was exchanged for the power to depose the Prosecutor General.
Judges, go back to your barracks
Freedom and Justice Party website
Columnist Alaa Al-Bahaar writes that the purging of the Judiciary should not be considered as “war on the state’s apparatuses but as a revolution against corruption, wherever it is”. Therefore, “legislative weapons” should be used along with public pressure. Then he mentions Morsi’s speech in which he told the army to go “back to your barracks,” hailing it as a moment that will be “historically remembered.”
He addresses judges, saying: “We expect justice and for you to uphold the law and not its text.” Then he criticises Councillor Ahmed Al-Zind for “calling on the United States, United Nations and European Union to interfere in our affairs,” and he dubs the Judges’ Club General Assembly meeting as “political”. He then says that the “power is now in the hands of the president,” who has to continue the war against corruption, and he should tell the judges to go “back to [their] barracks, as he did with the army.”