The influence of Egypt’s executive authority on the judiciary was evident this week as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued two decrees forcing another 44 judges into early retirement, and a third decree appointing a new deputy chief justice to the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The presidential decrees, published in the official Gazette Tuesday, were reportedly based on the findings of judicial disciplinary board hearings conducted in March 2015 and March 2016, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.
Nearly all 44 judges served as justices in appeals courts or courts of first instance.
The privately-owned Al-Mesryoon News Portal reported that judicial disciplinary boards declared the judges to be sympathizers of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization, adding that Sisi timed the decree with the passing of 1,000 days since the forced dispersals of the pro-Brotherhood protest camps of Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares on August 14, 2013, in an armed crackdown that left several hundreds dead.
Human Rights Watch hailed the 2013 dispersals, “One of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.” None of Sisi’s security forces have stood trial or been held accountable for these deaths.
Al-Mesryoon, along with other privately-owned news portals reported that the 44 judges were pushed into early retirement after disciplinary boards linked them to the signing of a statement of support for Mohamed Morsi’s presidency and in support of the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in.
Egypt’s judicial authorities have previously forced dozens of other judges into early retirement, in what critics have hailed politicized decisions, often concerning judges with alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The International Committee of Jurists recently issued a statement calling on Egypt to reverse “unfair” forced retirements.
This month, activist Sanaa Seif publicly argued that under Sisi, “the judiciary has lost its sovereignty and is controlled by executive authorities.” Seif faces a six-month prison sentence.
This week, Sisi also issued a presidential decree appointing Judge Abdul Aziz Salman as deputy chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court. MENA reported this decision was announced after the Supreme Constitutional Assembly chose its own candidate.