Algeria’s National Union of Judges has condemned as “illegal” recent actions taken by Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati. In particular the arrest of two judges on a provisional basis and dismissing a government prosecutor for various reasons.
The Union said that the legal reasoning on which the Minister of Justice relied is flawed. In a statement it explained:
“If the first paragraph of article 65 of the Basic Law of the Judiciary allows the Minister of Justice to issue a decision to dismiss a judge temporarily, in case he commits serious errors, after a preliminary investigation and informing the Office of the Supreme Council of Justice, the second paragraph of the same article expressly forbids that such dismissal be the subject of defamation, knowing that this guarantee approved by the legislator is consistent with the principle of the universally enshrined principle of proof of innocence.”
The statement went on: “It is a guarantee to protect the reputation and status of the judicial authority from all that would shake the citizen’s trust in it,” expressing regret “for this flagrant violation of the provisions of the law by the bodies of the Ministry of Justice.”
The Union of Judges said that the arrest of the government prosecutor on the basis of Article 26 of the last paragraph of the Basic Law “is not appropriate,” adding that this article “allows the Minister, for the necessity of the interest, to transfer the judges of the Public Prosecution, or governors of the state, or judges working in the central administration of the Ministry of Justice, training and research institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Justice, and the administrative departments of the Supreme Court and the Council of State, or appointing them to other positions, provided that the Supreme Council of Judges is informed at the earliest session, knowing that this article does not allow the Minister of Justice at all to dismiss judges.”