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Tunisia: US ‘concerned’ about democratic process and injustice against judges

August 23, 2022 at 11:32 am

Farouk Bouasker, president of Tunisian Independent High Authority for Elections, holds a press conference to announce the official results of the 25 July referendum on the new constitution in Tunis, Tunisia on August 16, 2022 [ Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency ]

A delegation from the US Congress has stressed the importance of an “independent judiciary and an active and empowered parliament to restore the Tunisian people’s confidence in a democratic system.” The comment was made following meetings with Tunisian President Kais Saied and representatives of civil society organisations on Sunday and Monday.

The delegation members apparently expressed their concern about Tunisia’s democratic trajectory, according to a statement by the US Embassy in Tunis.
“The delegation urged Tunisia towards the swift adoption of an inclusive electoral law that facilitates the broadest possible participation in the upcoming legislative elections,” said the embassy. “Members expressed their strong support for Tunisia’s democracy and the aspirations of the Tunisian people for a responsive, transparent and accountable democratic government that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, while prioritising the country’s economic future.”

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On Sunday evening, the Tunisian presidency reported that Saied told Congress members that the recent statements made by several US officials about the situation in Tunisia are not acceptable. Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the “new constitution in Tunisia could weaken democracy.”

In a related context, the International Federation of Jurists has condemned the unjust dismissal of judges in Tunisia, and the “fabrication” of criminal proceedings against the head of the Association of Tunisian Judges. The restrictions imposed on the dismissed judges, and the “threats and harassment” against the head of the association, Anas Al-Hamaydi, was also condemned. He has apparently been threatened with criminal prosecution due to his union activities, which include protests against the crises facing the country.

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The federation also denounced the failure of President Saied and the Ministry of Justice to abide by the decision of the Administrative Court, which ordered the suspension of the dismissal decision. It pointed out that international solidarity with their colleagues in Tunisia is strong among judges around the world because an independent and impartial judiciary protects rights and freedoms in accordance with international standards.

Saied’s move against the dismissed judges is “a serious violation of the primary rules that characterise the rule of law and an intolerable violation of the principle of separation of powers,” insisted the Federation. It called for the cancellation of the presidential decree and possible disciplinary measures against judges. Fair trials based on international standards of impartiality, with appeal processes and not subject to oversight by the executive authority are essential, the international body stressed.

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