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Tunisia: Third day of strike defending judiciary independence

Activists gather in front of Tunisian Court of First Instance to stage protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied after he has sacked dozens of judges, in Tunis, Tunisia on 8 June 2022. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
Activists gather in front of Tunisian Court of First Instance to stage protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied after he has sacked dozens of judges, in Tunis, Tunisia on 8 June 2022. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

Dozens of judges on Wednesday participated in a protest in front of the Court of First Instance in Tunis to object to the: "Indecent assault against judges, and to defend the independence of the judicial institution." This coincided with a strike carried out by judges for the third consecutive day.

During the rally, which was organised by feminist activists, the protesters raised slogans stating: "Raise your hand away from the judiciary," "We are faithful to the honour of the honest people" and "It is a judicial authority, not police orders."

The Honorary President of the Tunisian Judges Association Rawda Al-Qarafi asserted in a speech during the protest: "The judiciary cannot be reformed through abusing people's honour."

She added: "We are against this fierce attack against the Tunisian judiciary that is intended to be subjugated by the direct executive authority. A female judge, like other women, finds herself in a discriminatory position even in ordeals."

Al-Qarafi went on to say: "Today, the slogan of reforming the judiciary is raised by the president of the republic under the moral classification (indecent assault). Today, the woman's body is used to raise the slogan of purifying the judiciary. We are not against accountability, but rather, we are against the collapse of the state, especially after the people's documents (the security investigation) were circulated among people."

Tunisia: Saied orders judges' salaries be cut as they go on strike 

A document was recently leaked on social media of an investigation with a female judge among the dismissed. The document related to an accusation against her of committing "adultery", which the judges consider an abuse of the honour and reputation of their colleague.

Last Wednesday, President Kais Saied issued a presidential order stipulating the dismissal of 57 judges due to charges of "changing the course of cases", "disrupting investigations" into terrorism cases and "committing financial and moral corruption". The judges denied all charges.

The dismissal order of the judges was rejected by Tunisian unions and parties and received intense international criticism, particularly from the US and Amnesty International.

On Saturday, the Tunisian Judges Association launched open strikes and sit-ins to not run for judicial positions to replace the dismissed Judges and to not run for positions in the subsidiary bodies affiliated with the Independent High Authority for Elections.

Last Monday, the Head of the Tunisian Judges Association Anas Al-Hamaydi disclosed in a press statement that 99 per cent of judges participated in the strike, which lasts for one week.

In response to the strike, on Monday, Saied ordered to deduct the strike days from the judges' wages, stressing: "The state's public institutions cannot be stopped."

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