The ICJ today welcomed the decision of a Tunisian constitutional commission declaring a new law on the High Judicial Council (HJC) to be unconstitutional.
The ICJ further calls on the authorities to seize this opportunity to amend the law, Organic Law No. 16/2015 on the HJC, to bring it into full compliance with international standards on judicial independence.
“The decision by the Provisional Commission offers a timely opportunity for the authorities to remedy the numerous flaws of this law, including by providing for an inclusive and transparent process to thoroughly amend the law in full compliance with international standards, by ending any interference of the executive in judicial matters, and by removing any obstacles that hamper the establishment of a truly independent and effective judicial council,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ MENA Programme.
In a memo published in May, the ICJ expressed its deep concerns over the process of drafting and adopting the law as well as its content, in particular provisions relating to the composition, independence and competencies of the HJC.
Of particular concern, the law does not provide for the HJC to be composed of a majority of elected judges and to be meaningfully involved in determining and ensuring sufficient budgeting for the judiciary, the ICJ says.
The law does not adequately guarantee the security of tenure of judges.
It allows for judges to be transferred without their consent for a maximum of three years, leaving the potential for manipulation or abuse.
The law also grants the Minister of Justice sweeping powers over the Judicial Inspection Service and over the commencement of disciplinary proceedings, the ICJ adds.
In its decision, the commission (the “Provisional Instance to Review the Constitutionality of Draft Laws”) ruled that many of the provisions that the ICJ had criticized were unconstitutional, including articles 10 and 11 on the composition of the HJC and 42 on its competencies.
Theo Boutruche, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: +96 170 888 961, e-mail: theo.boutruche(a)icj.org
Tunisia-Constitutionality of HJC law-News-Pressreleases 2015-ARA (full press release in Arabic)NewsPress releases