Judicial committee: Lawyers Syndicate elections on 20 November

A judicial committee has set next Saturday, 20 November, for the Lawyers Syndicate elections, with runoff elections to be held on 27 November.

The date was chosen as the committee is will finish inspecting electoral lists on 15 November, said counselor Ahmed Bassiouny, a member of the judicial committee supervising the syndicate's elections, in a press briefing.

Critics from the Lawyers Syndicate are claiming that the date was set in order to placate lawyers unhappy they have been excluded from the process of amending the Judicial Authority Law 142/2006.

Lawyers organized massive demonstrations last week after the judicial committee decided to postpone elections indefinitely. Lawyers considered the decision an attempt to alienate their association because they have pushed against recent draft amendments proposed by two groups of judges to the law.

Lawyers say that they were completely ignored in discussion about the amendments, which affect them directly.

The judges have proposed two conflicting draft amendments to the pivotal law, which will regulate the judiciary.

The draft proposed by a committee headed by influential Judge Ahmed Mekky claims to ensure a fully independent judiciary that limits the role of the government's executive branch in intervening in judicial affairs. The other draft, however, is believed to aim for social and economic welfare for judges. It has been proposed by head of the Judges Club Ahmed al-Zend.

The protesting lawyers object to various provisions in the two draft laws. Most prominently, they reject the provision that gives the judges the authority to detain lawyers if they “disturb” a court session. Lawyers say that such vague language could be used to infringe upon their legal immunity in court.

The judicial committee’s decision on syndicate elections was welcomed by six movements in the Lawyers Syndicate.

The Revolution Lawyers, the Front for Saving the Lawyers Syndicate, 25 January Lawyers, the Lawyers Association Independence Front, Lawyers for Professionalism, Lawyers Without Restrictions and Lawyers Without Limits said in a joint statement that setting a date for syndicate elections is a response to the demands of the association's general assembly.

Abdel Aziz al-Dirini, a spokesperson for the pro-Muslim Brotherhood lawyers bloc, considered the decision “prudent.”

Setting a date for the elections will help ease the current restrictions on lawyers' professions, due to the judicial authority law and attempts to freeze the association, he added.

Sameh Ashour, a candidate for syndicate head, doubted the date set by the supervising committee, saying that it could change again, and said that setting it is a tactic to calm lawyers before the general assembly convenes next Monday.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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