Attacks on Justice 2005: Tunisia
Lawyers are frequently subjected to violence as a direct consequence of criticizing the Tunisian government.
Intimidation of lawyers and their clients has increased over the past two years. The government interfered with international monitoring. The situation of the judiciary remains critical.
The adoption in July 2005 of the Law reforming the organization of the judiciary wrecked the aspirations of judges and prosecutors for independence and transparency in their profession. Until two years ago, the judiciary acted as a tool of government oppression.
Since then, lawyers and judges have gradually asserted their wish to be independent of the executive. In response, the government has hardened its policy towards judicial institutions and has openly persecuted lawyers.
Several important trials, including the trial of lawyer Mohammed Abbou and another involving three members of the Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party, demonstrated a lack of respect for fair trial guarantees.
These failings triggered strikes by the legal profession in February 2002 and March 2005. The Constitution was amended by referendum in May 2002 to remove the limit on the number of terms Presidents may serve and to grant them lifelong immunity.
New anti-terrorist legislation adopted in December 2003 further restricted fair trial and due process rights.
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