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Egypt parliament passes bill to strengthen judiciary

[JURIST] The parliament of Egypt [JURIST news archive] has passed a bill that restricts the government's influence over the judiciary but falls short of the reforms demanded by some judges. Although the Judicial Authority Law approved Monday by the People's Assembly [official website] ends the justice minister's authority over the attorney general, it does not incorporate other changes proposed by reformist judges, such as elected members on the Supreme Judiciary Council. Members of the reform-oriented Judges Club [JURIST op-ed] and lawmakers in the opposition Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] said the bill does not guarantee the judiciary independence from the government of President Hosni Mubarak [official profile].

Earlier this month, three UN experts on judicial independence and freedom of expression expressed "grave concern" [JURIST report] about "recent attacks against the judiciary of Egypt" and about the detention of protesters [JURIST report] who supported reformist judges. Specifically, the experts condemned a disciplinary panel decision [JURIST report] to reprimand pro-reform judge Hisham Bastawisi for "exercising his right to freedom of expression" when he alleged widespread voting fraud in last year's parliamentary elections [JURIST rpeort]. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage, and Egypt's State Information Service has local coverage.

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