Controversy in Kuwait after Egyptian lawyers threaten to quit over equal pay

March 16, 2011
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A controversy has erupted over a decision by Egypt’s new justice minister not to allow Egyptian judges to work in Kuwait until Kuwait’s Higher Council of Justice gives them the same salary and benefits package as their Kuwaiti colleagues.

Mohammad Abdul Aziz Al Jundi, the Egyptian Minister of Justice, this week issued the decree following a move by 35 Kuwait-based Egyptian judges to submit their resignations at the end of the month if their demands for better salaries were not met, Kuwaiti daily Al Watan reported.

“From my viewpoint, if the Egyptian judges receive the same salaries as the Kuwaiti ones, they will not be subject to bribes or corruption. When they have a decent lifestyle and financial stability, they will not consider accepting bribes,” Kuwaiti attorney Hussain Al Asfour said, quoted by Kuwait Times.

“There should be no discrimination between Kuwaiti and Egyptian judges. The Egyptian judges have the same responsibility and pressure as their Kuwaiti colleagues, so they should receive the same or similar salaries. Generally, judges come to Kuwait on one-year contracts, and if they prove their capability and qualifications, their contracts are renewed,” he said.

However, Egyptian legal consultant Ahmad Mubarak said the new Egyptian justice minister’s decision was not discussed with Kuwait’s Higher Council of Justice.

“The decision, even if it is right, is unilateral,” he said. “Al Jundi should have first asked the judges about their demands and reviewed whether this was legal according to the framework of relations between the two countries. He should have taken up the issue with the Kuwaiti Higher Council of Justice.”

According to the consultant, this haste on the minister’s part could be because the rapid changes currently sweeping Egypt have affected all sectors, amid attempts to introduce reforms as fast as possible.

“We still prefer to hold discussions between the two parties rather than taking any unilateral decision, as this will prevent conflicts,” Mubarak said.

Aziz Al Syed, a Kuwaiti lawyer, strongly condemned the Egyptian minister’s decision, calling it illegal and immoral, though he felt Kuwait needed the Egyptian judges. He suggested that withholding services was the wrong way of going about obtaining improved pay and conditions.

“The Egyptian judges have the right to demand a salary increase, but the demand should be submitted in a legal way,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any external intervention. Also, every Egyptian judge [working in Kuwait] signed and reviewed his working contract before coming to Kuwait, which means that he agreed to the conditions in Kuwait, including the salary,” he said, quoted by the daily.

According to Al Syed, Kuwait should think of long-term solutions.

“Kuwait should pay attention to the shortage of local judges and should provide more Kuwaiti judges to replace the Egyptians. The law allows the Higher Council of Justice to appoint Kuwaiti lawyers with experience as judges in case of a mass resignation,” he said.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/kuwait/controversy-in-kuwait-after-egyptian-lawyers-threaten-to-quit-over-equal-pay-1.777367

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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