Tunisia's dismissals of judges 'blow to judicial independence': NGOs

Earlier this month, Tunisian President Kais Saied sacked dozens of judges.

Tunisia's dismissals of judges 'blow to judicial independence': NGOs

Ten international human rights groups criticized the dismissal of more than 55 judges on June 1 by Tunisian President Kais Saied, describing the move a "deep blow to judicial independence."

"The president’s moves are an assault on the rule of law. He should immediately revoke the decree and reinstate judges he fired under its provisions," said a joint statement by the human rights organizations that included among others Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights, Lawyers Without Borders, World Organization Against Torture and Amnesty International.

Emphasizing that the "independence of the judiciary is a crucial element of the right to a fair trial," the joint statement noted that "states have an obligation to take specific measures to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and protect judges from any form of political influence."

On June 1, the Tunisian president sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists.

Among those sacked was Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council whose members the Tunisian president replaced this year.

Another prominent judge on the list was Bachir Akremi, whom Saied’s supporters accuse of being too close to the Ennahda Party.

In response to dismissals, Tunisian judges started a week-long strike on Monday to pressure Saied to reverse his decision.

The sacking of judges by the Tunisian president has drawn widespread condemnations from political parties across the North African nation as well as from the US.

Tunisia has been in the throes of a deep political crisis since July 25, 2021, when Saied dismissed the government, suspended parliament, and assumed executive authority, in a move decried by opponents as a “coup.”

He later dissolved the parliament in March after lawmakers held a session to revoke his measures.