Tunisia: appointment of constitutional court members must meet international standards

As they begin the appointment process, the Tunisian authorities must ensure that selection of members of the Constitutional Court are made in compliance with international standards on the independence of the judiciary, the ICJ said today.

This must happen through an open and transparent process and based on prescribed, objective criteria of merit, integrity, and equality before the law, the ICJ adds.

The 2014 Constitution and the Organic Law no. 50 of 2015 on the establishment of the Constitutional Court provide that three bodies are responsible for appointing the 12 members of the Constitutional Court.

These are the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP), the High Judicial Council, and the President of the Republic, which each body appointing four out of the 12 members successively.

The Constitution and the Organic Law also provide that members must have 20 years of professional experience and nine of them should have advanced legal expertise.

Over the past three weeks, the ARP has been reviewing the candidates for the Constitutional Court and the election of first four members is due to take place in a general plenary on Tuesday, 13 March 2018.

“Ensuring that the selection and appointment of all members of the Constitutional Court is made on the basis of their legal qualifications, competence and personal integrity is absolutely necessary to the strengthening of rule of law and the protection of human rights in Tunisia” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“In electing the four members, the ARP should ensure that these criteria are fully met, and that the process safeguards against appointments for improper motives, including political considerations and arrangements between political groups,” he added.

The Tunisian authorities should also ensure that the composition of the Constitutional Court reflects the diversity of the community it serves, including by ensuring the equal representation of women in the Court, as well as a significant representation of minority groups.

In a previous memorandum, the ICJ has also urged the authorities to ensure that the selection process guarantees the independence of the institution and of the individual judges in compliance with international standards.


Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: +41798783546, email: said.benarbia(a)icj.org


Article 11 and 12 of Law no. 50 of 2015 provides that the election of candidates by the Parliament and the High Judicial Council shall take place through a secret ballot with the vote of a majority of two-thirds of their members. Article 13 provides that the President of the Republic appoints the last four members of the Constitutional Court.

The 2014 Constitution requires the establishment of the Constitutional Court within a year after the legislative elections. Four years later, and despite the entry into force of Law no. 50 in 2015, the Constitutional Court has not yet been established.

Tunisia-PR-Constitutional-Court-2018-ARA (Full Text in Arabic, PDF)