UN expert: Tunisia’s presidential decrees undermine independence of judiciary and access to justice
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 17 July 2022
The UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, expressed his grave concerns about the right to a fair trial and the situation of the judiciary in Tunisia, after President Kais Saied dissolved the High Judicial Council in February and summarily sacked 57 judges last month.
“I am deeply concerned about the negative impact of recent actions by President Saied on judicial independence and the right to fair trial and access to justice for all people in Tunisia,” the UN rapporteur said.
On February 13, 2022, Tunisian President Kais Saied dissolved the High Judicial Council, the main guarantor of the independence of the judiciary in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution and the democratic transformation in the country, and replaced it with a temporary council appointed by a presidential decree. The decree also enabled the president to interfere with the appointment, promotion, and discipline of judges in the country.
“Then on 1 June, President Saied issued a Presidential Decree empowering himself to unilaterally dismiss any judge based on vague, undefined criteria, without due process. On the same day, he dismissed 57 judges under presidential order.” García-Sayán said.
The judiciary in Tunisia has temporarily suspended the strike that it has been leading since June 6. However, three judges are still on hunger strike since 22 June, and two others have joined since 6 July.
“Under international standards, all disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings against judges must be determined by an independent judicial body, and I am extremely worried about the health of judges who have made the very personal decision to launch a hunger strike to protest the measures,” stressed García-Sayán.
The UN rapporteur urged the authorities in Tunisia to address the main concerns of the judicial strike, and to take the necessary measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary.