On February 5, late in the evening and from the Interior Ministry, President Kaïs Saïed announced the dissolution of the Supreme Judicial Council (CSM).
On February 6, a few hundred police officers surrounded the garden town and all the streets leading to CSM’s headquarters, preventing its members from accessing it.
On February 13, the president issues a decree announcing the composition of a provisional CSM with new members.
Prior to all this, the President multiplied the statements that were hostile to the judges, who in his eyes are slow to react in relation to several cases.
In any country in the world, judges would have risen up against what clearly and unequivocally resembles the interference of the executive in the judiciary. There would have been strikes and a veritable standoff, from which only one result would have been possible: may justice win!
In Tunisia, there were some reactions from the media (Business News first) to condemn this interference, some reactions from politicians and some diplomatic reactions, especially the EU, which expressed its concerns about Saïed’s decision, and that was all.
The first interested parties, that is to say the judges, were strangely silent, with the exception of the chairman of the Association of Young Judges, Mourad Messoudi, who is one of the dismissed. The new members of the CSM took their position without relinquishing, as if it were their right.
Youssef Bouzakher, former president of the CSM, refused to make waves, almost avoided the media and spared himself any controversy. ” We do not like war, we are not like lawyers “, Confessed to Business News headlong, a judge. ” They are scared, they do not behave like judges with full power, they behave like officials », A lawyer tells us. Another gives us another explanation: They are divided, several of them approve of what the president is doing because they believe that there are many corrupt people in the company and that cleaning is necessary “.
Whatever the reason for this approving silence in the face of hostility and the president’s attack, there was no revolt on the part of the judges. The media may condemn the interference and speak of disgrace, but the first interested parties preferred to avoid war with Kaïs Saïed. In short, they had a choice between war and disgrace, they chose disgrace, they got war anyway (modified apocryphal quote from Churchill).
Wednesday 1eh June evening, the president announces the dismissal of 57 judges under a cabinet. A detailed list of names was published the same day shortly before midnight in a decree published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Another decree published in the same official journal specifies that the judges have no opportunity to appeal as long as there is none “ delivery of an irrevocable criminal conviction in respect of the matters attributed to them “.
During the nightly Council of Ministers, the head of state explains the reasons for the dismissal of these judges and confirms that he has done everything to avoid any injustice. Citing the reasons, he says there are judges taken in sexual acts (or infidelity, the Arabic he speaks in allows both translations), sexual harassment, corruption, belonging to a political party, hiding evidence, reports or court records. Others are “accused” of illegally enriching or simply enriching or of participating as a consultant in private companies against a bonus of five hundred dinars (150 €) for each meeting. Some judges are accused of preventing police from searching suspects’ homes or of obstructing their investigation.
In the wake of these decisions, described as historic by the president, there was no shortage of reactions. There are those who protested against this blatant interference in the judiciary and the blatant violation of the principle of the distribution of power.
And there are those who applauded the President for doing so. Basically, it is said that the president was right in trying to clean up a company that has been slow to clean up itself, that there are many corrupt judges, and that it was necessary to put an end to that.
Several lawyers, contacted this morning by Business News, claim that several of the fired judges deserve what is happening to them. They would be really corrupt. But there are still others who have been condemned (because it is truly a condemnation) just because they would have refused to follow orders and to keep rank.
Skewed magistrates have always existed and will always exist. In the list of 57 there is a bunch of them and they are known by the public opinion. The most famous are undeniably Taïeb Rached and Béchir Akremi. The first, former president of the Court of Cassation, admitted to having traded in real estate, with a dubious enrichment in passing. The other, a former prosecutor close to the Islamists, hid about 6,268 terrorist archives.
Nevertheless, the truth is more complex and we can not sanction an entire company under the pretext of having crooked judges. The President of the Republic has not fallen into this trap and has clearly stated that he does not generalize and that the majority of the judges are honest. So why publish decrees affecting the entire company instead of sending cases of crooked judges to the CSM whose members he has just named?
The President of the Republic does not like his contradiction and gives erroneous reasons in the reasoning which he presents to the Council of Ministers. Whether a judge prevents a search of a home or prevents the conduct of an investigation is entirely within his jurisdiction. It is up to him, and only up to him, to lead the investigations, and it is up to him to ensure that the procedures that are often violated by the police are respected.
The president says the information he relied on to fire the judges does not support any doubt and that there is no room for injustice.
That is simply not true, because one can not judge a person on the basis of information from the police or the army. There was no judicial pros and cons before these judges were convicted. The right of defense and the presumption of innocence have been violated. These are unchanging principles of justice that the President has disregarded with simple decrees.
Who should uphold these principles of justice? Media, NGOs, political parties or rather judges?
Alas, everyone protested loudly as the president dissolved the CSM, except for the judges they first touched on.
They said nothing when he repeatedly attacked them in his speeches, they said nothing when he dissolved CSM, and they said nothing when he appointed new members instead of elected members.
Supported by this silence, Kaïs Saïed yesterday took a new step in the humiliation of judges by acquiring privileges that no head of state in the world has, not even despots.
The president continues to humiliate the judges and beat them.
He can say he will never interfere in their work, this is false, they are more than ever under his control. By the decree he published yesterday, no judge can oppose him under punishment for being dismissed immediately without the possibility of appeal.
The president broke one of the last bastions of the republic and the rule of law to applause from a gullible people who prefer light feelings over complex truth and primary revenge over justice.
Raouf Ben Hedi