Tunisia: President must reestablish the rule of law

President Kais Saied must immediately revoke his decree renewing the State of Exception and related measures sine die, the International Commission of Jurists said today.

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The decree, which aims at maintaining the suspension of the Parliament (the Assembly of the People’s Representatives, ARP), and the removal of the parliamentary immunities of ARP’s members is a further assault by the President against the separation of powers, the rule of law and the constitutional order in Tunisia.

“The Constitution is clear: President Kais Saied has no authority to suspend Parliament, to strip parliamentarians of their immunity as members of the legislature, or to act as a chief Prosecutor,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director.

“By renewing such measures sine die, the President aims at cementing his one-man rule, free of any checks or oversight.”

In the absence of a Constitutional Court – the organ the Tunisian Constitution mandates to review the circumstances under which the State of Exception is declared and enforced – the ICJ reiterates its call on the judiciary to act as a check on the President’s power grab.

Under the 2014 Constitution, the current suspension of Parliament is null and of no legal effect or force.

Parliamentarians must exercise their constitutional functions to the fullest, including by reviewing the President’s powers and the measures he has taken during the State of Exception.

Moreover, under international human rights law, state of exception measures derogating from certain human rights obligations may only be adopted in case of public emergency that threatens the life of the nation, and must be of an exceptional and temporary nature, limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.

The situation in Tunisia and the measures adopted under the decree for an undefinite duration — in particular the self-designation of the President as the Chief Prosecutor, which seriously undermines the independence of the judiciary — do not meet these requirements.

“The hard-fought gains of the Tunisia’s uprising are on the line. The Parliament and the judiciary must ensure that no President is able to undermine them or return Tunisia to its past authoritarianism,” added Benarbia.       

Contact:

Said Benarbia, Director, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41-22-979-3817; e: said.benarbia(a)icj.org

Asser Khattab, Research and CommunicationsOfficer, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, e: asser.khattab(a)icj.org

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