Lebanese Justice Minister Denies Political Interference

The Daily Star

Information published by multiple media outlets a few days ago suggested that Minister of Justice Marie-Claude Najm could interfere in the current judicial appointments, and thus change her position as a defender of the independence of justice.

In response, Minister Najm wrote in a tweet on Friday, stating that her ministerial position is not “a post office box.”

That tweet continued to raise doubt among some, on the grounds that it shows, according to them, the will of Minister Najm to interfere in the political or denominational plan.

Lebanon Minister of Justice – Photo: ANI

However, the Minister had accompanied her comment with another tweet in which she clearly rejected “any interference related to the sharing of political and denominational quotas.”

Contacted by L’Orient-Le Jour, the Minister expressed her surprise that the public persists in considering that she has renounced her principle of rejecting political interference of any kind, even though she has never stopped to proclaim it since taking over the ministry.

“By asserting that I am not a post office box, I simply meant that the law gives me the prerogative to examine the draft appointments and to communicate my remarks to the members of the Superior Council of Magistracy,” she indicated.

Photo: NewLebanon

In response to those who might suggest that the list of appointments is currently with the Department of Justice, she stressed that the observations she could make “will be in line with the objective criteria adopted by the CSM [Superior Council of Magistracy] and not through the imposition of names.”

Sources close to the Ministry of Justice tell L’Orient le Jour that Marie-Claude Najm would like to “take the time to work on the document before communicating, if necessary, and within a maximum of a few days, her written observations to the CSM,” with which she also intends to meet.

Judge Souhail Abboud. Photo: L’Orient-Le-Jour

Furthermore, sources close to the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) assure that the members of this body decided, from the start, to comply with the will of its President Souheil Abboud to appoint the judges according to their competence, experience, integrity, and personality.

They emphasized that the decisions were made following consultations which punctuated intensive meetings lasting more than two months.

To those who believe that the case has been slow to be resolved due to political interference, these sources assure that the delay is only due to the fact that each of the cases of about 150 judges affected by the permutations had to be carefully studied.

Many sources converge to recognize that the judicial permutations were based on objective professional considerations. However, these permutations have caused the dissatisfaction of several judges, who believe they have been treated unfairly.

Some have prepared to ask for leave without pay, others have resigned, and others have announced that they intend to resign.

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Among them, the Attorney General of Mount Lebanon, Ghada Aoun, who has resigned to the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun.

A source close to the Baabda public prosecutor’s office indicates that Judge Aoun has not presented her resignation to the President of the CSM.

That’s “because, according to the Constitution, the head of state is the first magistrate of the Republic who, in this capacity, is always present at the ceremonial opening of the judicial year,” the source said.

In any event, according to the source, “the resignation must ultimately be approved by President Aoun, since he will have to accept it under a decree after the CSM has signed it.”