Sisi’s regime continues to eliminate judicial independence

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The new judicial movement of the judges of the State Council, one of Egypt’s main judicial institutions, included the transfer of Counselor Sami Darwish. Darwish was a member of the court that invalidated the agreement to relinquish Egypt’s sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in favour of Saudi Arabia in 2016, from the Supreme Administrative Court to the Board of Commissioners in Court, which is a demotion, as well as being in violation of the State Council Regulations regarding members’ affairs. This is a new episode in the series of revenge against the independent judges who refuse to obey the orders of the Egyptian regime.

The judges of Tiran and Sanafir are in the circle of revenge

The process of revenge against Chancellor Sami Darwish began earlier this month, when his son Omar was excluded from the appointments of the State Council for “security reasons,” even though he obtained an honours grade in college, in addition to passing all stages of appointment and medical examination. Omar Darwish submitted a strongly worded complaint to the President of the State Council against his exclusion from the appointment: “If the real and undeclared reason for my exclusion from the appointment to the State Council is to take revenge on my father because of judicial rulings he wrote and participated in issuing, then all jobs become easier, and even life becomes easier. I do not accept revenge or pressure on him in his work because of me.”

In his grievance, Omar added: “Justice was absent from your council, and it was a niche for justice, and the decision appealed against left me in the position of an assistant delegate and skipped me in violation of the law and was not based on a valid reason and was similar to the usurpation of power and a deviation in its use.” It seems that these sincere words trampled on the wound, so the state wanted to take revenge on Sami Darwish, for daring his son to object in this way, which was considered impolite.

Judicial sources confirmed, in press statements, that the transfer of Counselor Sami Darwish from the Supreme Administrative Court to the commissioners’ body violates the council’s regulation, which stipulates that the transfer of any member of the Supreme Administrative Court is not permissible except after his approval or at his request, which did not happen in the decision to transfer Darwish, what is considered a violation of the regulations. The arrows of revenge against the judges of the Tiran and Sanafir case first hit the venerable Counselor Yahya Al-Dakrouri, the head of the court that invalidated the maritime border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia, as he was excluded from the presidency of the State Council in 2017, despite his eligibility for the position according to the rule of seniority.

Sisi issued a legal amendment specifically to deprive Counselor El-Dakrouri of his right to be appointed as head of the State Council. The amendment to the new law stipulated that the president would have the authority to choose the head of the State Council from among the three advisors nominated by the Council’s General Assembly from among the seven oldest deputies of the council’s speaker, instead of applying the rule of seniority that the council has followed since its establishment in 1946.

Every independent judge is a target for revenge

In May 2015, the Egyptian authorities referred the two judges, Assem Abdel-Jabbar and Hisham Raouf, to investigation on charges of “engaging in politics,” against the background of the two judges’ participation in preparing a draft law against torture in Egypt. The United Group for Lawyers and Legal Consultants held an expert workshop in March 2015 to present and discuss a draft law, which was prepared with the participation of legal experts and advisers, including Judges Hisham Raouf and Assem Abdel Jabbar, who are supervising the draft, to combat the crime of torture in Egyptian law. They are also checking it is in line with the provisions of the constitution, international standards, and is in line with the recommendations that Egypt agreed to accept during the universal periodic review session of its human rights before the United Nations Human Rights Council in November 2014.

The United Group submitted the text of the draft law to the relevant state ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, as well as sending it to the president to consider it, but was surprised when the director of the United Group was summoned, the well-known human rights lawyer Nejad Al-Borai, for investigation, as well as summoning the two judges, Assem Abd Al-Jabbar and Hisham Raouf, for the same purpose, as they were accused of “working in politics.”

In a further abuse of the two judges, the case remained open for four years, during which an attempt was made to refer them to retirement, and they were deprived of a large part of their salaries, in a message to every independent judge seeking to establish a homeland that respects human rights, that the punishment will be severe. Prior to this incident, dozens of judges were referred to compulsory retirement or dismissed from their jobs, claiming that they were engaged in politics and advocating for a particular political faction in violation of the law, because of their rejection of the first military coup that took place in 2013.

These facts confirm that the regime’s talks about the establishment of a state of justice and about the independence of the judiciary are all illusions promoted by a dictatorial regime. As for the clear truth, it is that there is no independent judiciary in Egypt, and every independent judge will be subject to punishment if it is not today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. An independent judge is a conviction for the entire system and a threat to the system and its image.