Lebanon female judges withdraw from courts

Lebanon female judges withdraw from courts

BEIRUT, Nov 26, Reuters - Three senior Lebanese female judges have withdrawn due to political interference and the collapse of their pay as a financial and political crisis rages.

A political system based on sectarian balance and patronage has resulted in decades of economic mismanagement and corruption, and has undermined a legal system where many judges are appointed for their loyalty rather than effectiveness.

There is evidence of this in a campaign by politicians to hobble a judicial inquiry into last year's catastrophic Beirut port blast.

This is a wake-up call about everything that is going wrong: the living conditions, the political intervention - basically the country is falling apart, Rola Husseini, who quit as head of Beirut's Criminal Court of Appeal, told Reuters.

Husseini was recently passed up for a position in the top judicial body, the Higher Judicial Council, which went to a judge seen as close to the parliamentary speaker.

Judge Jeanette Hanna, who resigned from Beirut's Appeals Court, did not want to comment, while Carla Kassis, who stepped down from the Court of Cassation, could not be reached for comment.

The judges are exceptional members of the judiciary, and the resignations have not yet been accepted by the Judicial Council.

Hanna issued a ruling last month that rejected attempts by former ministers charged with removing the judge as head of the inquiry. She was targeted with a lawsuit seeking her removal from the case.

A fourth judge, Ziad Mkanna, resigned about a month ago, the spokesperson said. Mkanna had investigated malpractice allegations against Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.

Justice Minister Henry Khoury did not respond to a request for comment.

Husseini said that the three female judges would ask the council to take concrete measures to strengthen the judiciary and then decide whether or not to withdraw their resignations.

There is a massive, shameful attack on them, because there are judges in Lebanon who are independent and not affiliated with politicians, and there is a massive, shameful attack on them, Husseini said.

Someone has to stand with us.