Human Rights Watch (HRW) Tunisia Director Salsabil Chellali Monday urged Tunisian authorities to reinstate dismissed judges and prosecutors and remove all measures used to subdue judicial authority.President Kais Saied dismissed 57 magistrates last year as part of an “anti-corruption” crusade. According to Chellali, ”These blows to judicial independence reflect the government’s determination to subjugate prosecutors and judges to the executive branch, at the expense of Tunisians’ right to a fair trial before independent and impartial judges.” Chellali further stated that the fight against corruption should adhere to the rule of law rather than political whims.In August 2022 Tunisia’s justice minister indicated that the ministry would file criminal charges against the dismissed judges and magistrates, contradicting a previous order requiring the ministry to reinstate 49 of the 57 magistrates. In a HRW interview, Judge Sadok Hachicha expressed the opinion that the criminal charges are “politically motivated” retaliation against judges who do not “follow orders.”Last year, Saied also unilaterally dissolved the High Judicial Council (HJC), a legally mandated body established to ensure the independence of the judiciary. Thereafter, Saied personally appointed nine judges to serve on a temporary HJC by executive order. The same decision also gave him the authority to hire and fire judges and prosecutors. Saied further gave himself the authority to fire judges and magistrates unilaterally in June 2022.Chellali maintains that the Tunisian government must stop attacks on the judiciary, reinstate the judges who were fired and grant all judges freedom of expression, association and assembly.
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