As part of its mandate to reform the justice system, the State Building Working Group at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has announced the new selection process for the Judicial Supreme Council, the country’s highest court.

It is based on a survey of “best practices,” gathered from judicial systems around the world, said Mohammed Marem, head of the State Building Working Group. The Yemeni Judges Club has responded to the news with a temporary strike that began on Sunday.

According to the mandate, 15 percent of the Judicial Supreme council will now consist of academics and 15 percent will come from the lawyers’ syndicate. By including a small number of “outsiders” in the assembly, the State Building Working Group hopes to “create change,” and break up judges’ ‘monopolies’ in the council. Judges will no longer be appointed to the council, they will be elected. Parliament will then confirm justices once they verify each elected candidate’s qualifications.

To protest the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) State Building Group’s selection criteria, members of the Yemeni Judges Club began suspending their work on Sunday, except for urgent issues, such as those relating to prisoners, said Jamal Al-Fuhaidi, the deputy head of the Yemeni Judges Club. Now, the judges say they will go on a complete strike, dismissing all cases if the NDC doesn’t react.

Al-Fuhaidi told the Yemen Times that the Yemeni Judges Club will continue their protests until the council “regains independence” and is comprised solely of judges.

Out of 46 members in the working group, 43 voted in favor of the decision.

Lawyer Marwan Al-Dwsari criticized the reforms, telling the Yemen Times that the State Building Working Group is tasked with establishing criteria for the Judicial Supreme Council, not distributing percentages amongst different groups “unrelated to the judiciary.”

As part of the decision making process, the State Building Working Group met the Yemeni Judges Club three times. It also consulted justice system experts around the world, including those from European and Arab countries.

The Yemeni Judges Club asked for a meeting with President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to outline their objections to the reforms of the State Building Working Group.

Sources: Yemen Times, Sep. 25, 2013, http://www.yementimes.com/en/1715/news/2933/NDC-Working-Group-reforms-judiciary.htm

Yemen Fox, Sep. 22, 2013, http://www.yemenfox.net/news_details.php?sid=6758