Egyptian judges to go against Sisi's legal amendments

Published April 30th, 2017 - 04:45 GMT
Journalists and photojournalists demonstrate in Cairo against repeated attacks on members of the press in Egypt (AFP)
Journalists and photojournalists demonstrate in Cairo against repeated attacks on members of the press in Egypt (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has faced a backlash from judges after ratifying hugely contested legal amendments that give him sweeping powers over the country's courts.

Sisi ratified the amendments last week that allow him to make appointments in the top courts, as he selected new heads to the judicial bodies.

Judges say the move will threaten the independence of the legal system in a country already fraught with excessive central control.

"It has become clear from this crisis and the suggestions of further amendments to judicial laws that Egypt's glorious judiciary is without a doubt being targeted by many state institutions," the head of Egypt's judges club Mohammed Abdel Mohsen said on Saturday in a message to judges obtained by The New Arab.

Abdel Mohsen added that the informal professional association will hold an emergency meeting on 5 May to discuss how to move forward after parliament passed the law.

The Judges Club has warned it would take escalatory measures in protest of the law including raising the issue internationally.

It said it might eventually hold strikes and members could withhold from supervising future parliamentary elections.

A group of journalists released a joint statement harshly criticising the move as "authoritarian".

"This a new decision on the path of enacting dictatorial and authoritarian laws from the president who is aiming to take full control of the all the powers and institutions in the country," it said.

Rights groups condemned the law after parliament passed it.

Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaign director at Amnesty International, said: "This law has the potential to undermine the independence of the country's already beleaguered judiciary."

The group had warned the president against ratifying it saying it would be a "setback to justice".

In 2013, when Sisi was defence minister, he led a military coup that overthrew Egypt's first freely elected President Mohamed Morsi, following mass protests against the Islamist leader.

A year later, Sisi came to power after winning presidential elections with 96 percent of the vote after standing largely uncontested.

Since then, rights and freedoms have been restricted, with rights groups and activists accusing Sisi of leading a brutal crackdown on Islamists and leftist dissidents.

Critics have accused Sisi of using the judiciary as a tool to quash opposition and all forms of dissent.

Copyright @ 2022 The New Arab.

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