The lowering of maximum age limits for judges impedes the work of the judiciary, said Minister of Justice Ahmed Suleiman.
The minister discussed developments surrounding the Judiciary Law and judicial reform in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper published on Sunday.
Suleiman stressed that the separation of powers was not a “rigid separation” and that the judiciary needed to be consulted in the process of amending the Judiciary Law. He added that each authority could not act in complete isolation, but had to operate under a framework of respect and consultation with the other branches of government.
The newly-appointed minister also said the suspension of the Justice Conference was a “natural reaction” to the way in which the state’s legislative body had initially approached amending the Judiciary Law, which has become controversial. However, the minister went on to say all parties needed to act responsibly for the sake of public good.
Suleiman indicated that forcing earlier retirement for judges could damage the morale of those working in the judiciary, saying that 3,500 judges would be forced out of work.
The minister of justice went on to say that there had been talks during the drafting of the constitution to increase the number of Egypt’s judges by 4,000 and questioned how this would happen if a new law put almost that many out of work.
He said the proposed amendments would affect one third of those practicing in the Court of Cassation and 400 appeals courts judges, adding that such a sudden drastic change would impact the work of those institutions.
The Ministry of Justice was working to come to a solution to the impasse, said Suleiman, but strongly criticised the way in which the amendments were introduced, saying that the law would “not see the light of day” until it was presented to the judiciary and its recommendations were taken into account.
He said that he had not discussed the Supreme Judiciary Council’s (SJC) boycott of the Justice Conference with President Mohamed Morsi, but added that he anticipated a breakthrough soon.
The presidency had called for a Justice Conference after proposed amendments presented by the Al-Wasat Party to the Shura Council were received negatively by the country’s judiciary.
The Judges’ Club announced it would boycott the conference, saying its specific demands for attending were not met. The club called on the SJC and the Ministry of Justice to join in the boycott.
The SJC afterwards said it would stop preparations for the conference. The judges of the Court of Cassation also announced it would boycott the conference.