The subject of Shariah law and legal reform in the Arab World was addressed by a number of regional and international experts at the Qatar Law Forum yesterday, where they put forward the advantages and disadvantages of reform and recounted some of the most significant reforms in recent year.
Qatar’s attorney general HE Ali bin Fatais al-Marri opened the session, emphasising the importance of a separation between the judiciary and the government of a country, claiming that without this separation, and a subsequent independent administrative and financial system, the judiciary cannot be fully independent.
“We need to instate the spirit of justice and not only the letter of the law,” he argued.
Deputy Chief Justice from the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court, Adel Omar Sherif then claimed that there have been important developments in the Arab world, especially with the new power of judges to interpret the Shariah law.
“We have seen a new constitutional culture emerging in the Arab world,” he argued, adding that the judiciaries in the region have also become more aware of the need to protect human rights in recent years.
He was followed by Moroccan secretary general and former chief justice, Driss Dahak who said that although the Arab world has been changing, it has been developing at a slower rate than the rest of the world.
Saudi Arabian legal adviser, Abdulaziz al-Gasim claimed that the introduction of new bodies such as NGO’s and the media to the world of law is an indication of how important reform is.
Professor Eugene Cotran – a special advisor to the QFC judiciary – highlighted the extent of reform in the Arab World, and said that although there has been “encouraging levels of reform, we still need to look further.”
These developments were also mentioned by Jasser Auda, who described the introduction of the personal status law in Egypt in 2000 as an important reform, and an example of Shariah law being reinterpreted to deal with a challenge of globalisation
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