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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Egypt justice law 'disappointing'
Judges stage a sit in outside Egypt's Supreme Court - 25 June
Judges have been supported by protesters on the streets
Members of Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood have criticised a new law on the judiciary as "disappointing".

The law, approved on Tuesday, offers few of the reforms judges had wanted, although it includes some concessions to their demands for more independence.

Some pro-reform judges were critical, although a senior judge told the BBC it was a "limited step forward".

Judges in Egypt have been at the forefront of a campaign for democratic reform in the past year.

Some concessions

Opposition MPs, who are mainly allied to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, voted against the set of reforms.

This law is very disappointing and removed from any reform that could guarantee the independence of the judiciary
Mohammed al-Baltagi
Muslim Brotherhood

Justice Minister Mahmud Abu Leil described the Judicial Authority Law as "a major accomplishment for the independence of the judiciary",

But many of the demands made by the Judges Club, an informal body which has led a series of recent challenges to the Egyptian government, have not been incorporated into the law.

The law does not meet the judges' request that all their affairs be placed under the control of a council elected by them.

But it does end the attorney general's current obligation to report to the justice minister.

'Ignored'

The Brotherhood said the new law showed that the government wanted to tighten its grip over the judiciary, rather than guarantee its independence.

"This law is very disappointing and removed from any reform that could guarantee the independence of the judiciary," said Mohammed al-Baltagi, an member of the parliamentary Islamist bloc, which is allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, AFP reported.

"We called for dialogue but unfortunately the government ignored us," pro-reform judge Assem Abdel Gabbar told AFP.

The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo says the Egyptian government has faced an unprecedented challenge from the judiciary over the past year.

Thousands of judges gathered in open meetings in which they demanded safeguards to protect the legal system from government influence.

They also spoke openly against election fraud and accused the government of using the judiciary to legitimise rigging.

Our correspondent says the new law is a setback for the judges but there is little they can do because of the strength of the government.


SEE ALSO
Egypt's taste for reform sours
11 May 06 |  Middle East
Egypt rounds up Brotherhood men
19 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Egyptian judges come out in force
25 May 06 |  Middle East



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