Tunisia: Government’s dismissal of judges an affront to fundamental rights and the rule of law

photo: Yassine Gaidi, Anadolu Agency via AFP

In a new threat to freedom and the rule of law in Tunisia, the government has unilaterally dismissed 57 judges.

The sackings ignore the frameworks regulating the work of the judiciary and its representative bodies and deprive the judges of the right to object to, and take legal action against, their dismissal.

The unions of the country’s judges have launched strike action in protest at the government’s move, and the ITUC-affiliated UGTT has called a public sector strike for 16 June.

The dismissals follow a series of orders and decrees restricting fundamental rights and freedoms in Tunisia, such as Circular No. 2, which forbids any negotiations with unions without the permission of the prime minister. This contravenes ILO Convention 98, which guarantees the right to collective bargaining.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “This wholesale dismissal of judges without any due process, and depriving them of any right to appeal, is the latest step in the tightening of the executive’s control over the judiciary after the seizure of legislative power.

“We fully support the judges’ strike and protests against this arbitrary dismissal, as well as all those who stand in solidarity with them and against attempts to control and manipulate the judiciary. We call on all concerned to support the UGTT’s endeavours to launch a serious national dialogue that ends the political, economic and social crisis in the country."