27 Feb. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Tunisian authorities on Monday to reinstate the judges who have been arbitrarily dismissed in recent weeks.
“The authorities must immediately stop their attacks on the judiciary and targeting judges through prosecution and intimidation. They must reinstate arbitrarily dismissed judges and ensure they fully enjoy their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly “, declared the director for Tunisia of HRW, Salsabil Chellali.
Along these lines, Chellali has pointed out that “these blows to judicial independence reflect the determination of the government (of Kais Saied) to subjugate prosecutors and judges to the executive branch, at the expense of the right of Tunisians to a fair trial before independent judges. and impartial”.
“The fight against corruption should not be instrumentalized for political purposes and must be carried out respecting the rule of law,” added the director of the NGO in the country.
The organization has denounced that the Ministry of Justice has refused to reinstate 49 magistrates, both judges and prosecutors, despite an order from an administrative court issued in August 2022. It has also criticized that the Tunisian president has taken measures, among which is included the unilateral dissolution of the High Judicial Council –the body in charge of the independence of the judiciary–, as part of a supposed war against corruption.
The magistrates interviewed by HRW have indicated that they have not been informed of the reasons for their dismissal, nor of the evidence against them. Nor have they been provided with the means to appeal the accusations, in violation of established procedures.
Likewise, the lawyer who coordinates the Committee for the Defense of Dismissed Judges, Ayachi Hammami, or the lawyer and former minister Lazhar Akremi, face charges for their critical comments on the treatment of magistrates. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years and four years in prison, respectively, for “accusing, without evidence, a public official of violating the law” and for “harming others through public telecommunications networks.”
HRW has criticized Tunisia’s new constitution – approved with 94.60 percent support in a vote marked by low turnout – as “undermining the independence of the courts” by giving the president the ultimate authority to appointing judges and by depriving judges of the right to strike.
In recent weeks, nearly 20 opposition figures and journalists have been detained, a campaign of repression criticized by the international community and in the face of what is denounced as an authoritarian drift by Saied, who in July 2021 arrogated all powers after dissolving the Government and suspend Parliament, later dissolved.