[JURIST] Syria [JURIST news archive] has removed 81 judges and improved wages, taxes and insurance for the judicial branch as part of a series of reforms, government newspaper Ath-Thawra reported Wednesday. According to the paper, the reforms were ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC News profile] to improve judges' standard of living and accelerate legal reforms in the country. France granted the country aid last year to reform its judicial system, which had been plagued by corruption. Some criticized the move as undermining judicial independence from the executive, however. AFP has more.