More than 100 Lebanese judges have recently announced an immediate work stoppage, a protest that stems from dire living conditions and their deprivation of even the most basic allowances, particularly healthcare and education for their children.
This move coincides with the start of the new judicial year midway through September, potentially opening the door to a new disruption in the performance of the judiciary, which has been operating at a minimum capacity or what could be described as “caretaker mode” since the beginning of 2023.
In response to this development, the Justice Minister in the caretaker government hastened to emphasize that he places the demands of the judges as a top priority and will work diligently to address them promptly.
The minister reassured that there is no cause for concern regarding the judicial year and that there will be no return to a state of judicial strike or paralysis in the justice system.
Without warning, 111 judges from the judicial, administrative, and financial branches in Lebanon announced the strike as of Friday.
Protesting judges blamed the state’s inability to cover healthcare, medicine, and education for them and their families, the deplorable working conditions in the halls of justice that fail to uphold human dignity, and the deteriorating situation of the judiciary.
They said that those factors had compelled them to “cease work from the start of September until the conditions for living and working with dignity are met.”
A protesting judge, who requested anonymity, emphasized that the decision to suspend work “serves as a cry for help and a warning to officials that the judicial reality cannot remain as it is.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the judge said: “The decision of these judges could snowball and threaten to disrupt the upcoming judicial year, especially since the work stoppage was the result of negotiations and discussions we conducted with the Judicial Council and our diligent attempts to secure the minimum rights of judges, but unfortunately, we have not achieved any results.”
The judicial landscape represents the most vivid manifestation of the collapse that has plagued Lebanese state institutions since the onset of the financial and economic crisis in late 2019.
Judges have lost over 90% of their salaries due to the collapse of the national currency, in addition to the loss of basic benefits such as healthcare, education, and other incentives that they enjoyed before the crisis.