The Fatwa and Legislation Department was established sixty years ago. The objective was to create a body entrusted with defending the state’s internal and external issues, providing legal opinion on disputes between the State and other parties, and reviewing or drafting bills submitted by the government or Parliament. So it is playing an important and dangerous role in our lives.
Since 1959, its staff of legal experts, lawyers, consultants and former judges have been growing naturally. Over the past 60 years, the country has had 430 lawyers in various fields, assisted by a few more in the administrative, services and others.
Suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, Minister Anas Al-Saleh approved the appointment of 440 new lawyers to work in the Department. Here, there was a great fuss on these appointments, and many talked about nepotism and interventions in the selection of some, despite the fact that nearly a thousand men were interviewed and tested for competency and efficiency.
We will accept this reluctantly, but we know that a majority got the job just because ‘someone’ wanted to satisfy ‘someone’, and as a result the others got sidelined, as it was said a controversial MP announced his willingness to take up the issue of those who did not ‘win the race’ to defend them.
The problem is everyone focused on the method of selection and the suspicion around it, and no one realized the fact that during its 60-year history, the Fatwa and Legislation Department did not need more than 430 lawyers to carry out its duties and tasks.
Suddenly, it needed 440 new lawyers, while no change is seen in the nature of its work and no judicial disaster has occurred or a wave of legislation, or resignations that require the appointment of all this number of state lawyers.
In this situation, the department does not necessarily need all this number of lawyers especially since a large proportion of them may not be professionally qualified for anything, with due respect for them but there are also not vacancies to accommodate all the lawyers who will be entrusted with future serious issues to assume the task of defending the public money and the interests of the nation.
Moreover, the department does not have the time and the ability to train so many lawyers. What is more dangerous, is the loyalty of some of them because it is but natural their loyalty will be inclined towards those who have helped them to get the job, and it is very likely that some of them will eventually receive cases either to defend or give opinion. On the one hand will be the state and its interests and on the other the party who mediated and appointed the person who is handling the case. On which side of the fence will loyalty be?
What is happening is strange and unprecedented in the State of Wonderland. A government body is working efficiently with 430 lawyers, and the minister appoints more than double the number of the Department to take care of them, arrange places and training, and distribute tasks to them and all will be at the expense of the reputation of the body and the State. Goodbye justice.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf