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Tunisia: Lawyers start a one-week strike

March 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Tunisian lawyers on Monday began a one-week strike across the country in response to a call from the National Authority of Lawyers.

The head of the Judges Association said that the strike is being used for political purposes.

The head of the National Authority of Lawyers, Mohamed Fadil Bin Mahfouz, stated that “this week will be a week or protests against the backdrop of the events that took place in the Court of First Instance in Sfax and also the latest attacks on a number of lawyers.”

A week earlier, security personnel in Sfax attacked a female lawyer while in custody after her brother had made traffic law violations. A verbal quarrel between her and one of the security personnel escalated when the latter used verbal and physical violence against the lawyer.

Bin Mahfouz noted that lawyers have entered into a general strike, and that they will also boycott sessions for a day. They are calling for protests and an exceptional general session for the National Authority of Lawyers.

The strike, Bin Mahfouz clarified, comes in the wake of attempts to exclude Tunisian lawyers from the judicial scene, and to make litigants and citizens aware of their rights through the Supreme Judicial Council.

The head of the Association of Tunisian Judges, Rawda Al-Qarrafi, said that the lawyers’ strike is being used politically. The victims are the judges, and not the lawyers, she added, noting that the strike came following an attack by lawyers against the Solicitor General of the Court of Appeal in fax after the latter ordered an investigation into the female lawyer, her brother and the security personnel in question.

“What is going on today is a capitalisation on these issues. The investigation is not taking the right course,” Al-Qarrafi said.

She added that the strike has a second level, which is to put pressure on the Supreme Judicial Council to increase the number of lawyers represented in the council.

According to Article 112 of the Tunisian Constitution, the Supreme Judicial Council comprises four bodies – the Judicial Council of the Judiciary; the Administrative Judiciary Council; the Financial Judiciary Council; and the General Session for the Three Judicial Councils. Two-thirds of each of the three bodies are judges, most of whom are elected and the rest are appointed. The remaining third are independent judges with jurisdiction. Most of the members of these bodies are elected. Elected judges carry out their roles for one six-year term.