Main Arab Legal Events: The Legal Agenda’s Perspective
Weekly Note noo 16 (17-24 December 2012)
Egyptian General Prosecutor: Unwillingly Designated and Forced to Resign
Upon suspecting Abdul Jalil: a Draft Law Preventing the Prosecution of Civilians before the Military Courts in Libya
“Cactus” Case in Tunisia: a Case of Corruption or a Cause of Freedom?
The Lebanese Constitutional Council Operates for the First Time in Three Years
Apostasy Trials and the Spectrum of Capital Punishment Looms in Yemen and Saudi Arabia
-For the first time in the Egyptian history, the General Prosecution members staged a sit-in to call upon the resignation of the new General Prosecutor as a sign of protest against his interference in their works, after the newly-appointed Prosecutor ordered the transfer of Eastern Cairo Attorney General upon the latter’s decision to release 136 suspects detained after the federal palace demonstrations. Ibrahim submitted his resignation stating he was forced to hold office. He revoked it however within four days in order to avoid the adoption of a similar method with his successor. It should be noted that Ibrahim has been designated in the wake of the controversial constitutional declaration that was issued by the President of the Republic Mohammed Morsi on November 21, 2012, and that led to the dismissal of the former Prosecutor “Abdul Majid Mahmoud”.
-A communiqué was issued accusing the President of the Supreme Judicial Council and the President of the Egyptian Judges’ Club of corruption and nepotism for having designated judges’ sons from the 2010 Law School graduates within the offices of General Prosecution, with a rate amounting to 85%, while excluding outstanding and highly qualified students. Such communiqué is considered as the first legal procedure against the inheritance of judicial positions, a matter that has according to many researchers become one of the main flaws of the justice system in Egypt.
-Amid a large-scale judges’ boycott, the second stage of the referendum was held knowing that judges have stated they would resume work in courts once all attacks on the Judiciary are halted and the “physical and moral” siege imposed on the constitutional court is lifted. In the meantime, the Egyptian Judges’ Club President Ahmed Al-Zind was attacked, in an act that was considered as an assassination attempt on his way out of the Egyptian High Court of Justice.
-The Libyan Ministry of Justice declared having adopted a draft law preventing the prosecution of civilians before the military courts. Such a decision goes hand in hand with a law issued by the Egypt’s People’s Council and considered by many observers as having been adopted in order to guarantee a fair trial for the former President of the National Transitional Council Mustapha Abdul Jalil in the case of Major General Abdul Fattah murder before the civil court, following street protests against attempts to tarnish the reputation of one of the revolution’s leading figures.
-The controversial debate over the case publicly known as “the Cactus Case” resurged following the ongoing arrest of TV producer Sami Fehri accused of embezzlement of public funds despite the Court of Cassation’s decision interpreted by some as a decision to release him. While some people have considered his ongoing detention approved by the Ministry of Justice as an interference in the Judiciary, many others accused some of the media including a part of it own by the convicted himself of taking advantage of the situation to turn his case from a corruption one into a freedom cause.
-Following royal decrees demanding the release of detainees (116 protestors) arrested for having participated in the protests against the government’s decision to raise prices of oil products, the number of the released on bail amounted to 105. Demonstrations calling upon the release of the rest of the detainees continue to take place knowing that the royal decree excluded 13 persons accused of sabotage during the protests.
-A one of a kind meeting to adjust the relationship between the media and judiciary was held between the attorney general at the court of cassation and the President of the National Media Council as well as the Press and Editors’ Syndicates. Within the meeting, problems hindering the work of judges and journalists were discussed and a suggestion to connect the General Prosecutor to all news directors was raised in order to make sure the information is reliable for the audience. It has also been decided to hold regular meetings that ensure permanent contact and coordination. On another note, the Editors’ Syndicate called upon an amnesty for journalists unable to pay high fines imposed by the Press Tribunal’s unfair judgments.
-The Supreme Judicial Council resorted to a mental and psychological expertise in the case of Judge Adel Fathi referred to the disciplinary board in an attempt to mock his courage in exposing corruption. On the other hand, similarly to Fathi’s action, the Vice President of the Moroccan Judges’ Club Mohammed Anbar filed, as “a Moroccan citizen”, two complaints against two former ministers accusing them of failing to report a corruption crime that they knew about with regards to the article published in “Al-Massaa” newspaper. Both complaints reiterated that of Fathi.
-The apostasy case filed against a Yemeni employee continues to wreck havoc after the latter published on a social networking website researches considered by the General Prosecution as going against the rules of Islam. The General Prosecution thus ordered the execution of the convicted and his separation from his wife. Human Rights Activists qualified such an accusation as intellectual terrorism. Within the same framework, Human Rights Watch warned against the risk of imposing capital punishment on Raef Badawi accused of “apostasy” for having done nothing but creating an electronic website to open a debate on religion and religious figures in Saudi Arabia. The case was referred to a higher court after the judge prevented Badawi’s attorney from representing his client in court, calling upon the convicted to “repent” or else he shall face capital punishment for apostasy.
-The administrative court called upon the government to implement its decision to offer treatment abroad for the injured people in the Yemeni revolution.
Beyond the Weekly Note:
The Arab Emirates:
-The Arab Network for Human Rights Information denounced the ongoing repression of activists, bloggers, and journalists following the decree on “cyber criminality” which enables authorities to imprison any person who would criticize the state or its officials regardless of the criticism extent. The decree also violates the freedom of peaceful assembly thus preventing any calls for demonstrations through the social networking websites. The number of detainees reached 72 amid refusal to unveil their detention places or to refer them to the General Prosecution.
-The Criminal Court postponed until January 15, 2013 the State’s Security case on “offending the dignity of the Prince” or the “Lese-Majesty case” within which former MPs are accused.
Prepared by Christelle El-Feghaly