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Tunisia: civil society groups call for president to end interference in judiciary

May 24, 2023 at 12:54 pm

President of Tunisia, Kais Saied (L) in Tunis, Tunisia on April 09, 2023 [Tunisian Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

Thirty-seven Tunisian and international civil society organisations have called for an end to the executive authority’s interference in the judiciary. Such interference, they point out, includes President Kais Saied’s order to dismiss 57 judges last year.

The call has been made in a joint statement signed by the organisations, including Human Rights Watch, the Tunisian Journalists’ Syndicate, the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights and the Tunisian Judges’ Association.  They called for the authorities in Tunisia to respect the Administrative Court’s ruling in August last year which annulled Saied’s dismissal of the judges.

The organisations have also called for the annulment of the decree issued by Saied on 12 February 2022, regarding the dissolution of the Supreme Judicial Council. It is an elected body required by the 2014 constitution, they pointed out, and its mission is to ensure the independence of judges from the executive.

They also demanded respect for international standards of judicial independence and the right to a fair and just trial in accordance with Tunisia’s international obligations. The organisations warned of the repercussions of abusing justice in light of the authorities’ escalation of arbitrary arrests and judicial prosecutions. “Today, the Tunisian justice system can no longer fully perform its role as a guarantor of fundamental rights and freedoms,” the statement added.

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Tunisia president Kais Saied dissolves top judicial council - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Tunisia president Kais Saied dissolves top judicial council – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]