The amendment to the Judiciary Law reducing the maximum age for judges violates international standards, said Gerhard Reissner, Chairman of the International Association of Judges (IAJ).
Reissner visited Cairo this week and spoke with members of the country’s judiciary in response to heightened political polarisation surrounding its reform.
The head of the international organisation expressed concern at statements published by the Judges’ Club on Thursday.
Reissner said that a fundamental problem facing the judiciary was unstable state institutions, including the legislative branch, the capacity in which the Shura Council is serving until a House of Representatives and a new Shura Council are elected.
He also stated the replacement of former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud with Talaat Abdallah in November through President Mohamed Morsi’s constitutional decree was illegal and unconstitutional.
Reissner stressed that the lowering of the maximum age of judges goes against international standards, jeopardises the independence of the judiciary, and is something the IAJ found “unacceptable.” He said the possibility of lowering the maximum age for judges, estimated to force approximately 3,500 of them into early retirement, was alarming and part of the reason for his visit.
He rejected the idea that Chairman of the Judges’ Club Ahmed Al-Zend was attempting to invoke international interference, saying his job as IAJ was to speak with various groups in the country and assemble a report identifying the specific problems facing judicial-related issues.
Reissner also emphasised the importance of judicial independence following the revolution, saying it was one of the most important conditions of democracy.
On Monday the Judges’ Club held a judicial conference in cooperation with the IAJ to discuss safeguarding the independence of the judiciary. The Judges’ Club said the conference was intended for the exchange of ideas when it came to separation of powers.
The IAJ is an apolitical, international organisation whose main aim is safeguarding the independence of the judiciary. “Independence is an essential requirement of the judicial function, guaranteeing human rights and freedom,” reads IAJ’s mission statement.