G7 Express Concerns Over Tunisia’s Judicial Council Abolition

Tunisia’s main Western donors expressed concern on Tuesday over President Kais Saied’s move to dissolve a body tasked with upholding judicial independence after he seized wide powers last year in a move critics call a coup.

On Sunday, Saied declared his intention to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council, a move the organization denounced as unconstitutional and an attempt to weaken judges’ independence.

Youssef Bouzakher, the council’s head, said on Tuesday that its members were rejecting Saied’s efforts to shut it down and were considering their future measures via email.

A transparent, independent, and effective judiciary, as well as the separation of powers, are necessary for a functioning democracy that serves its people, stated ambassadors from the G7 group of wealthy democracies in Tunisia.

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Tunisia is facing a public-finance crisis, with Tunisians already complaining about food shortages and the central bank governor predicting an economic collapse similar to that seen in Venezuela and Lebanon.

While Tunisia has begun talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package that is considered as crucial to unlock additional forms of financial assistance, donors have urged Saied to take an inclusive approach to reforms.

The president has committed to protect the rights and freedoms secured by Tunisians in the 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring and gave democracy to the country, but his recent decision has raised concerns about the rule of law’s continued existence.

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He suspended parliament and fired the prime minister in July, later stating that he could rule by decree while drafting a new constitution, which he claims would be put to a referendum this summer.

Rights organizations, on the other hand, believe that he is becoming increasingly authoritarian, and that his recent move to bring the court under his control would give him complete control over all parts of government.

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, also urged Saied to reconstitute the council, warning that its dissolution would significantly undermine the rule of law.

Amnesty International, a human rights organization, warned on Tuesday that the measure threatens Tunisia’s right to a fair trial.

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The judges’ group stated in a statement that all court activity will be suspended on Wednesday and Thursday, and that judges would conduct a protest on Thursday against Saied’s decision.


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