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Draft judicial law violates constitution: Egypt Appeal Court

Islamist-proposed judicial authority law violates country's new national charter, general assembly of Egypt's Appeal Court asserts

Ahram Online, Wednesday 15 May 2013
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The general assembly of Egypt's Appeal Court has recommended that a controversial draft judicial authority law not be presented to the Shura Council, asserting that the proposed legislation "violates the constitution," Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported on Wednesday.

General assembly members say that Egypt's new constitution stipulates that only the government – and not members of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament, currently endowed with legislative powers) – has the right to draft and propose laws.

The assembly also recommended that Appeal Court judges not participate in a planned 'justice conference' with the presidency without the assembly's prior consent.

An agreement had been reached between President Mohamed Morsi’s administration, which supports the bill, and judges’ representatives, to hold the conference to discuss judicial reform prior to moving forward with any legislative changes. A preparatory session of the conference has already been held.

The general assembly further called for informing appeal and supreme courts worldwide about Egypt's ongoing judicial crisis and alleged violations of Egypt's judiciary.

The Shura Council is slated to discuss the controversial judicial authority draft law on 25 May, a move that the law's opponents have strongly criticised and which has prompted many judicial figures to drop out of President Morsi's justice conference.

The draft law, which would regulate the work of judges and decrease their retirement age from 70 to 60, is fiercely opposed by many Egyptian judges.

Earlier this month, agreement was reached between the Morsi administration and judicial figures to hold a conference devoted to proposed judicial reform before moving ahead with any legal amendments.

Some Shura Council members, mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, have called for expediting discussion of the draft legislation, state daily Al-Ahram reported on Wednesday.

Critics maintain that attempts to ram the legislation through the council fly in the face of legal and constitutional norms and would make the president's 'justice conference' redundant.

Morsi's Islamist allies proposed the draft legislation with the stated aim of 'purging' the judiciary of Mubarak-appointed judges. Opponents, however, say the move is part of a Brotherhood strategy to install Islamist sympathisers throughout Egypt's state bureaucracy.

The issue led to a major dispute during Tuesday's Shura Council session between the Brotherhood-led majority and opposition deputies, including those of the Salafist Nour Party – once a Brotherhood ally but which has thrown its support behind judges in the ongoing saga over Egypt's judiciary.

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