Egypt’s judges will boycott monitoring the constitutional referendum and go on an open-ended strike unless their demands for the draft are met.
The decision of the Judges’ Club general assembly to boycott the referendum on the constitution is supported by most judges and not just those in the club, said spokesperson Mohamed Abdel Hady in a statement on Sunday.
The club held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the Constituent Assembly’s refusal to adopt the judges’ suggested changes to the section of the constitution on the judiciary.
Members voted to boycott the referendum if the assembly does not allow the club’s board and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary to draft the section themselves.
Abdel Hady’s statement was in response to comments made by Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki on Sunday.
Mekki said that the referendum on the constitution would be held on time and that Egypt’s judges would monitor the referendum, despite the call of the board of the Judges’ Club for them to boycott.
“It is not within the rights of the executive branch, represented by the minister of justice, to interfere in the decisions of the general assembly of Egypt’s judges, either through supporting or rejecting them,” said Abdel Hady.
He added that almost 7,000 judges voted for the boycott and the decision belongs to them, not the club’s board.
The general assembly’s decisions are final and obligatory, he said. All judges who do not adhere to them will have their membership revoked from the club, which acts as a quasi syndicate for judges.
The Judges’ Club held an emergency meeting on Thursday with 6,852 judges in attendance including the complete membership of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and the prosecutor general.
They voted to reject the judiciary section in the current draft constitution and called for it to be removed until it is amended.
The general assembly also recommended that the club’s board, led by chairman Ahmed Al-Zend in coordination with the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, be allowed to draft the section so that they may ensure the complete independence of the judiciary, so neither the executive or legislative branches may interfere with it.
The judges declared their refusal of any “meddling” with the prosecutor general or public prosecution’s powers in the new constitution.
The members voted that if the Constituent Assembly were to reject the club board and Supreme Council of the Judiciary’s draft, judges across Egypt would declare an open ended strike and suspend work in all courts, in addition to not monitoring the referendum or the parliamentary elections that will follow.