CAIRO: Twenty-three Egyptian human rights and civil society groups expressed support Monday of liberal judges who have called for legal reforms, including legislation that would make the judiciary completely independent of the government.
“The groups express their full solidarity with Egypt s judges, who are calling for a new law that protects and consolidates the independence of the judges and the judiciary system, said a statement issued by the Arab Center for Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession and signed by 22 other groups.
A large group of judges in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria protested Friday against a draft law to regulate the legal system and accused the government of trying to draft it with great secrecy.
The 23 groups also expressed frustration and anxiety at last week s decision by the prosecutor-general to strip four judges of their immunity.
They are to be questioned after another judge filed a complaint over their allegations that fellow jurists were involved in rigging last year s parliamentary vote. The four have also been vocal in their criticism of government interference in judiciary demands for independence.
Last year s election was marred by government supporters intimidating and blocking voters outside stations as well as allegations of ballot stuffing in the counting process. Judges have demanded the right to supervise what goes on outside and inside the polling stations.
The Alexandria Lawyers Syndicate called for a meeting of all Egyptian lawyers in support of the four judges. It asked judges to attend the meeting wearing the black robes that reflect our sorrow and regret.
On Friday, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights called on President Hosni Mubarak to reverse the decision to strip the four judges of their immunity, saying they were practicing their right to freedom of opinion by voicing their views of the vote in media interviews.
The 23 groups called on the government to respect Egypt s commitments to international obligations concerning the independence of the legal system. AP