Policy and Research Papers

Separating Law and Politics: Challenges to the Independence of Judges and Prosecutors in Egypt

In this report, the independence of the judiciary is examined with reference to Egypt’s laws and practice, as well as amendments to the existing law that have been proposed (Chapter Three). It finds that, although independence is constitutionally protected and the highest courts frequently rule against the government, the Ministry of Justice is given wide powers over judges which provide scope for abuse. These include the right to assign judges to courts around the country, the ability to decide which judges are seconded to work in government ministries and the right to initiate disciplinary actions against judges. These powers threaten independence as they allow the Minister to reward or punish serving judges, and therefore provide an incentive for judges to please the government.

The legal framework also gives a role to the executive branch in the appointments system, particularly at the higher judicial level, allowing scope for politicised decision-making. A lack of transparency and the absence of public examinations for appointments also leads to a perception – if not a reality – of nepotism.