The ICJ today called on the Tunisian President to refrain from promulgating Organic Law No. 16/2015 on the High Judicial Council (HJC), and urged the Tunisian authorities to act to reform the deeply flawed articles of the law in full compliance with international standards on judicial independence.
The ICJ is deeply concerned that the law, which was approved by the Assembly of People’s Representatives on Friday 15 May, falls far short of international standards on judicial independence, in particular the provisions relating to the composition, independence and competencies of the HJC.
Of particular concern is the fact that the law does not provide for the HJC to consist of a majority of judges who are elected by their peers; does not provide for the HJC to be meaningfully involved in determining and ensuring sufficient budgeting for the judiciary; and does not adequately guarantee the security of tenure of judges, including by allowing for judges to be transferred without their consent for a maximum of three years.
The law also grants the Minister of Justice sweeping powers over the Judicial Inspection Service and over the commencement of disciplinary proceedings.
The ICJ is concerned that the drafting process of the law has failed to meet basic principles of inclusive participation and transparency.
Stakeholders, including professional associations of judges and civil society organizations, were not given the opportunity to provide their inputs or to meaningfully comment on the drafts.
“If promulgated, Law No. 16/2015 would perpetuate some of the provisions and practices that undermined judicial independence in Tunisia for decades, including by allowing for the Minister of Justice to initiate disciplinary proceedings against judges,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ MENA Programme.
“The Tunisian President must refrain from promulgating this law and initiate an inclusive process to draft a new law that unequivocally ends executive interference in judicial matters and empowers the HJC to oversee all issues relating to the judiciary, including judicial administration and the career of judges,” he added.
Theo Boutruche, Legal Adviser, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +96 170 888 961, e: theo.boutruche(a)icj.org
Tunisia-Tunisian Law on HJC-News-Press Release-2015-ARA (press release in Arabic, PDF)
Tunisia-Tunisian Law on HJC-Advocacy-Position Paper-2015-ENG (position paper in English, PDF)
Tunisia-Tunisian Law on HJC-Advocacy-Position Paper-2015-ARA (position paper in Arabic, PDF)AdvocacyNewsPosition papersPress releases