Tunisia: amend draft law on the High Judicial Council to comply with international standards

The ICJ today called on the members of the Tunisian parliament to amend the draft law on the High Judicial Council (HJC), with a view to ensuring its full compliance with international standards on judicial independence.

In a new position paper, the Geneva-based organization acknowledges that the draft law provides enhanced guarantees for judicial independence, in particular by ending executive control over the HJC, by providing for a majority of the HJC’s members to be judges elected by their peers, and by ensuring that the HJC is the only body competent to manage the career of judges.

But the ICJ remains concerned that in certain key respects, the draft law falls short of international standards.

In particular, it does not provide for specific, concrete measures to ensure women’s full and equal participation and representation in the HJC and the judiciary as a whole, for the HJC to be consulted on, and involved in, the preparation and implementation of the judiciary’s budget, and for adequate financial resources to be available for both the HJC and the judiciary in general.

“The Tunisian Assembly should ensure that the draft law is amended so that the HJC is truly independent, pluralistic and gender-representative and its competencies are expanded to include its involvement in the preparation and implementation of the budget for the entire judiciary, not only that of the HJC,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ MENA Programme.

The ICJ is also concerned that, while the draft law provides enhanced guarantees for the management of the career of judges by the HJC, the provisions relating to the security of tenure of judges and the transfer of judges, as well as certain aspects of the disciplinary system, are not fully in line with international standards.

“The draft law should be amended to ensure that judges may only be removed for reasons of incapacity or behaviour that renders them unfit to discharge their duties, that in all circumstances their consent is sought for any transfer to another jurisdiction, and that all disciplinary proceedings against them are fair and determined in accordance with established standards of judicial conduct,” Benarbia added.


Theo Boutruche, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +96 170 888 961, e: theo.boutruche(a)icj.org

Tunisia-Final HJC Draft Law-Advocacy-Position Paper-2015-ENG (full text of position paper in PDF, English)

Tunisia-HJC law-News-2015-ARA (full news text in PDF, Arabic)

Tunisia-Final HJC Draft Law-Advocacy-Position Paper-2015-ARA (full text of position paper in PDF, Arabic)

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