Judging the Judges: The present crisis facing the Egyptian judiciary

With the charges against former President Mubarak thrown out of court - the Egyptian judiciary is being both praised and condemned by its citizens.

"The crisis in the Egyptian judiciary is not that it needs legal and administrative “independence” from the executive It’s that it needs to reform as a top priority… and emphasise its role of enforcing the law… and not permit anyone to act outside the context of the law or to act in a political manner that does not conform to the law." 

So says Ibrahim El-Houdaiby, the author of this report on the Egyptian judiciary, as it struggles to find its proper place in the ever-changing Egyptian political landscape.

El-Houdaiby offers an alternative understanding of the judicial crisis by examining the historical and institutional context of the judicial system, the impact of this on the judiciary’s vision of itself and its professionalism and independence, and the resulting shortcomings. In this way, the paper presents an alternative approach to judicial reform.

And the solution? El-Houdaiby believes the best way is to empower the academic group of judges represented in the Judges’ Club (in addition to State Council judges and the Constitutional Court). The agenda of the Club must feature reform as its top priority. This can be achieved by determining mechanisms that combine professionalism and democracy within its management. The Club must be granted greater authorities with the High Judicial Council and must have a role in managing judicial oversight.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.