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Lebanon: Judges Suspend Strike Pending Budget Review

Lebanon: Judges Suspend Strike Pending Budget Review

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019 - 09:00
Photo of the Justice Palace in Beirut (NNA)
Beirut - Youssef Diab
Lebanon’s judges temporarily suspended their 45-day strike, without having any of their demands fulfilled, except for verbal promises to cancel the clauses included in the draft budget, which provided for cutting part of their allocations and financial gains.
 
The judges are awaiting the outcome of the meetings of the parliamentary Finance and Budget committee, which is holding intensive sessions to study the budget before its referral to Parliament for approval.
 
The budget includes a number of austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit. Its spending cuts include a reduction of public sector benefits and pensions.
 
A protesting judge told Asharq Al-Awsat that the suspension of the strike was a gesture of good faith, so as not to accuse the judges of intransigence.

The judge, who declined to be identified, said the judges “understand the suffering of litigants, whose files were frozen by the strike,” but added that they had to escalate in response to government’s austerity measures.
 
"If the parliament responds to our demands, we are ready to skip the judicial holiday this year (from mid-July to mid-September) to compensate for the losses of the litigants and the loss of the treasury as a result of suspension of sentences and the delay of payment of fines,” he said.
 
The judges announced the temporary suspension of their strike following a meeting at the Justice Palace of Beirut on Monday.

In their statement, they stressed that the suspension was temporary until the discussion of the budget law is completed.
 
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, MP Bilal Abdallah, member of the Finance and Budget parliamentary committee, noted that the deputies were yet to review the items pertaining to the rights of judges, adding that there was a serious intention to resolve them and to take the judges’ concerns into account.
 
Abdallah underlined the “need to protect their social security and financial contributions, and maintain the unity and independence of the judiciary.”

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