The Association of Tunisian Judges yesterday confirmed that the Supreme Judicial Council is the only body empowered by the Constitution to hold judges accountable and able to decide on the appropriate disciplinary course against them.
This came in a statement issued by the independent body after a security unit took charge on Friday of implementing a decision taken by the newly appointed Ministry of the Interior Rida Gharslawi to place the former public prosecutor, Bashir Al-Akrimi, under house arrest.
The statement said that "placing the judge under house arrest (…) requires a prior notification to be sent to the Supreme Judicial Council about the charges against the concerned judge that could constitute a threat to public security and order."
The statement stressed that the Supreme Judicial Council is the constitutional body responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of the judiciary and respecting its independence, as it is the sole institution empowered by the Constitution to decide on the disciplinary course for judges.
The statement explained that "the application of measures of the state of emergency against judges, in violation of the powers of the Supreme Judicial Council which guarantees their independence and takes responsibility for holding them to account, would spread a climate of fear and intimidation among all members of the judiciary, undermining their independence and impartiality."
Authorities had banned Al-Akrimi from leaving his residence for a period of 40 days – which may be extended – and prohibiting all contact with him except through approved means of communication. This comes after he was suspended from his position pending a decision on the charges of "concealing terrorism-related files".
On 25 July, Tunisian President Kais Saied cited Article 80 of the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, freeze the work of parliament for 30 days, lift the immunity of ministers, and appoint himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government.
This comes after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities criticising the government's handling of the economy and the coronavirus. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.