Bar association calls for strike protesting the targeting of lawyers

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The North Giza Bar Association called on its members to go on a partial strike in all North Giza courts, starting on Tuesday. The strike includes stopping paying judicial fees, except for some cases, as an initial step in protest of the Public Prosecutor’s decision to refer nine lawyers to the Criminal Court on charges of gathering and disrupting work due to an argument with a judge in 2015.

Several lawyers organised a silent protest in front of the North Giza Court, in which more than 100 lawyers participated, emphasising their rejection of the decision to refer lawyers to trial because of their work. Despite the Bar Association’s announcement to postpone the protest until obtaining the approval of the security authorities, many lawyers decided to participate to confirm their position. They will also organise another protest after receiving security approval. Several lawyers referred to the court met with the Public Prosecutor yesterday to resolve the crisis, but the latter told them that the matter is now in the hands of the judiciary, explaining that he cannot intervene to freeze the referral decision or reverse it.

The North Giza Lawyers Syndicate said that it will file a complaint with the Assistant Public Prosecutor clarifying the shortcomings of the investigations in the case, and will attach a video of the incident, noting that it is continuing to communicate with the concerned authorities to obtain approval for a silent protest, whose date will be announced later. Maha Abu Bakr, a member of the Front for Defending the Independence of Lawyers, said: “Referring lawyers to the criminal court because of an incident that took place while they were practicing their work is a violation of the Lawyers’ Law, whose provisions include not punishing any lawyer for the defence he shows during the exercise of his work.” She also drew attention to the fact that the events of that case have been repeated, considering that the weak role of the Bar Association in defending its members is one of the reasons for the recent recurrence of the incident.

The North Giza Prosecution announced this month the referral of nine lawyers to the Criminal Court, due to an incident dating back to April 2015. The Public Prosecution charged them with the use of force against judges and police personnel. The accusations also included theft of court books. Three members of the North Giza Bar Association denied what was said about the incident, explaining that the incident dates back to a court session on April 30, 2015, when a lawyer commented on a judge’s decision, which the latter considered an insult to the court and decided to imprison the lawyer. This angered the lawyers in the hall, and they reported it to the Bar. Then, members of the union went to the president of the court to mediate for their colleague and calm the matter, but it did not work.