“Courtroom drama” took on new meaning in Oran when judges on strike came back to court to protest a swearing-in of pro-government judges.
Rabat – In the western city of Oran in Algeria, judges attending a courtroom swearing-in faced off with riot police on Sunday, November 3.
The judges, as members of the National Union of Magistrates (SNM) began striking on Sunday, October 27, calling for the independence of the judiciary. Their action followed a judicial shuffle by the Ministry of Justice that affected nearly half of Algeria’s 6,000 magistrates.
The Oran courtroom was the location of the swearing-in of new pro-government judges. SNM protested the occasion, complaining that the executive has too much control over the Algerian judiciary.
When the judges caused a disturbance, fully-suited riot police arrived and clashed with the protestors.
Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni shared a video on Twitter of the chaotic scene that followed in a courtroom full of shouting and screaming.
من محكمة وهران اليوم، قوات مقاومة الشغب التابعة للدرك تقوم بتعنيف و طرد قضاة
Tribunal d’Oran aujourd’hui, forces anti émeutes de la gendarmerie face aux magistrats #وهران #الجزائر#Oran #Algerie pic.twitter.com/PzaFMdPcQh
— Khaled Drareni (@khaleddrareni) November 3, 2019
After the clashes, SNM said the police response was “a serious attack on the sovereignty of the judiciary,” according to the Algerie 1 news website.
According to SNM, 96% of Algeria’s judges and prosecutors are standing down in the strike. They will continue to strike until their demands are met.
Algeria’s judiciary is set to observe and supervise the December 12 presidential election in the country. However, judges protested in April against the election, then set for July, saying they would boycott it.
Algeria’s long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April following protests that began in February. Protestors have called for major reforms to the Algerian political system before participating in an election. They want all leaders from the “Bouteflika Era” to resign before going to the polls.