Main Arab Legal Events: The Legal Agenda’s Perspective
Weekly Note noo 19 (7-13 January 2013)
Judicial Movement in the Sultanate of Oman: Demands under Penalty of Work Suspension in Courts
The Case of Judges Lent to Gulf Countries Reaches Both Sides of the Frontiers: with Oman and the Arab Emirates being the First to be Affected
Tunisia: The National Constituent Council Questions the Justice Minister over the Judiciary`s Independence, and Judges Hold a Second Protest
The Yemeni`s Judiciary Dismisses Charges of Apostasy against a Blogger, and the Revolution`s Victims Pursue their Judicial Movement
Execution of a Female Sri Lankan Maid in Saudi Arabia
1- Egypt, Arab Emirates, Oman:
-The issue of judges lent to Gulf countries made headlines this week. After the Emirati authorities had deported the Egyptian Counselor Fouad Rached without specifying the reasons behind his deportation, Rached threatened to prosecute the Emirati officials as a lesson on how to treat judges. He also declared that the case of Egyptian doctors who were arrested in the United Arab Emirates is to be brought under international control. Most probably, his deportation is due to articles that he wrote supporting the January revolution and his continuously expressed opposition to the discrimination between an Egyptian and an Emirati judge, where the latter gets triple the pay of the former. In parallel, 40 judges are said to have held a meeting in Oman to call for an increase in the number of Omani judges to limit the incoming flow of foreign ones. It goes without saying that many countries in the Gulf (Bahrein, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar) resort to judges sent from abroad, especially from Egypt and Sudan, and more recently from Jordan and Lebanon. Certainly, such an issue raises big questions over the Judiciary`s independence and legal jobs in the country.
-The counselor Tahani Al-Gebali who was expelled from the Constitutional Court declared having appealed against the ¨constitution paper¨ given that it undermines the Egyptian Judiciary.
-The Court of Cassation overturned the verdicts relevant to the killing of demonstrators and abuse of power rendered against the former President of the Republic Hosni Mubarak, his sons Alaa and Jamal, and the former Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adili. Their cases shall be reexamined before a criminal court in Cairo.
-After the Tunisian Judges’ Association had declared its intention to escalate protests against the delay in the establishment of a temporary committee to supervise the Judiciary, the Constituent Council of Tunisia held a hearing to question the Justice Minister over the Judiciary`s independence. The hearing exposed the laxness of both the executive and legislative powers as to their responsibilities towards the Judiciary. The Minister of Justice pledged to resubmit the temporary committee`s establishment project to the Constituent Council under a revised version that would guarantee the independence of such an administrative and financial committee. Consequently, the Tunisian Judges` Association held a second protest after the revolution against the degradation of the Judiciary`s status, in an attempt to prompt the National Council to ensure guarantees of the Judiciary`s independence within the new constitution. Such a stand was remarkably supported by the civil society and some of the National Constituent Council`s deputies.
-The activist Ali Al-Saaidi, director of budget and planning in the Supreme Judicial Council was acquitted of charges of apostasy by the Press Tribunal, after the General Prosecution accused him of having published findings that go against the rules of Islam, thus calling for the execution of the convicted and the separation from his wife. The human rights activists hailed the acquittal while denouncing such trials that violate the freedom of opinion and expression.
-On another note, the victims of the Yemeni revolution`s case is still resonating at the judicial level after the government failed to execute verdicts according to which it should financially provide for the full treatment of the victims. The accusation committee of the wounded protesters decided to file a new claim against the reconciliation government.
Beyond the Weekly Note:
-A one of a kind movement in Oman: Citing ¨well-informed sources¨, Al-Balad website published news about a meeting of more than 40 judges where the main issues of the Omani Judiciary have been tackled, calling for the adoption of solutions within a one month period following the submission of the letter under penalty of work suspension in all the governmental judicial departments. The meeting was held in Muscat in the public judiciary department on January 5, 2013. According to Al-Balad, the meeting addressed, among others, the main following issues: The separation of the Judiciary`s budget from that of the Justice Ministry, the decrease of judges` salaries, the establishment of the Judicial Administrative Affairs Council, the measures that should be taken to increase the number of Omani judges to limit as much as possible the incoming flow of judges from other countries, and the reaffiliation of the Higher Judges` Institute to the Judicial institution.
-A female Sri Lankan maid named ¨Rizana Navig¨ was executed for having killed in 2005 a newly-born while she was still a minor, in spite of the Rights Organizations calls, including Human Rights Watch for halting the execution verdict against the maid, given the absence of any fair trial guarantees and the fact that the maid did not get the chance to resort to a competent lawyer and to a qualified interpreter.
-The Criminal Court condemned the tweeter Rashed Al-Anzi to 2 years in prison for having ¨offended the dignity of the prince¨ after having published two tweets on his twitter account. The court provided ground for its verdict by stating that it is not necessary that the convicted expressly and directly mentions the prince to say that the elements of the crimes are indeed present. The mere fact of understanding the intention behind his tweets is enough.
-The Bahraini Court of Cassation supported the verdicts rendered against 13 leading figures in the opposition on the charge of ¨toppling the regime¨. Seven of the convicted were condemned to life imprisonment, while the others` period in prison is to vary between 5 and 15 years. The Human Rights Watch described these verdicts as ¨mind-confusing¨ due to the fact that they lacked any expressive text about a specific contravention. On the other hand, the Bahraini Judicial Council expressed outrage at the interference in the Judiciary`s affairs, and confirmed the neutrality and independence of judges, far from any political struggle.
Prepared by Christelle El-Feghaly