Relations between Lebanon’s executive and judicial branches reached on Friday a new stage of complexity after judges insisted to challenge the government, which is determined to cut their benefits and reduce their hospitalization and education allowances.
The judges said Friday they will keep the strike they started four weeks ago, insisting that it will be open-ended.
Their decision means that thousands of judicial cases will remain frozen unless the government omits the cuts of benefits for the judiciary in the 2019 austerity budget that it is set to adopt.
The suspension of trials would deprive the treasury from huge revenues.
More than 300 judges met Friday in the Court of Cassation at the Justice Palace in Beirut, where the Higher Judicial Council briefed conferees on the outcome of the recent contacts with the legislative and executive authorities.
No statement was issued following Friday’s meeting, however, judicial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the judges agreed not to relinquish their demands and to take escalatory measures over the government’s failure to deal with the judiciary as an independent body.
“This job is no longer tempting to many judges, who pay high transportation fees by moving from one governorate to another, and incur the moral and physical hardship without anything in return,” the sources said.
Only one quarter of judges are functional in the country, after the majority of them decided to suspend their work in light of the government’s proposals to cut their benefits.
“Many judges now feel that their social security is in real threat,” the source said, demanding that the judicial authority in Lebanon remains independent from the executive authority.
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