Skyline: The dissolution of Tunisia's Supreme Judicial Council Consolidates Executive Dominance
Stockholm- Skyline International for Human Rights expresses astonishment at the decision of Tunisian President "Kais Saied" to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council, stressing that this decision represents a blatant attack on fundamental rights and achievements, which are experiencing a continuous decline that has begun since the measures announced by the President. Tunisian Kais Saied had suspended parliament, lifted parliamentary immunity, dismissed the prime minister and assumed the post of attorney general on July 25, 2021.
In a statement released today (Sunday), Skyline states that the Tunisian President announced earlier today to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council, considering that the Council is a thing of the past, and that he will issue a temporary decree for the Council," without providing further details. In this regard, Skyline stresses that this decision is a serious violation of the principle of separation of powers and the freedom and independence of the judiciary, as enshrined in the Tunisian Constitution.
"Skyline" points out that the decision to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council was made after the Tunisian president repeatedly criticized the judiciary on more than one occasion in recent months. He stated that he would not allow there to be a state for the judiciary, but that there should be a state judiciary. He also criticized what he called the "tardiness of the judiciary" and said, "There is corruption and he is determined to reform the judicial system."
Skyline further indicates that two weeks ago the Tunisian President decided to stop all privileges and benefits for the members of the Supreme Judicial Council by issuing a decision amending the Basic Decree No. 34 of 2016, dated April 28, 2016, regarding the Supreme Judicial Council. The President's decision provides for an end to the grants and the privileges granted to the 45 members of the Supreme Judicial Council.
On September 22, 2021, " Kais Saied" issued Presidential Decree No. 117, which provided for the elimination of the supervisory authority for the constitutionality of laws and the enactment of laws by presidential decrees. This action provoked widespread reactions of legislative control, given the alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.
Accordingly, Skyline notes that the country has been subject to ongoing attacks on fundamental rights since July 2021, including the arrest of 3 members of Tunisia's parliament on charges related to freedom of expression. Authorities have also arbitrarily placed at least 50 Tunisians under house arrest, including former officials, a judge, and 3 members of parliament. There have also been daily raids on dozens of newspapers and websites without judicial authorization.
Despite Tunisian President Kais Saied's repeated statements that "there is absolutely no room for the violation of human rights and freedoms," the currently observed facts prove otherwise, especially since these measures directly target a group of fundamental rights guaranteed under international law, including freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly without threat or persecution.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the President of the Republic, Kais Saied, to reverse his recent decision to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council as well as all decisions that unlawfully restrict the fundamental rights of individuals, stressing that the continuation of these decisions will have disturbing consequences. This is a serious violation of the rules and conventions of international law.
Finally, Skyline calls upon the Tunisian authorities to adopt a policy of restraint and work to ensure that citizens can exercise their right to express their views and criticize the work of the authorities and give them full space to do so. In addition, a comprehensive reform process should be initiated by reactivating the parliament and launching a comprehensive national dialogue involving all political forces to establish a roadmap to ensure that citizens are spared from abuses and discuss mechanisms to restore stability in the country.