The cleansing of justice and the need for an effective judiciary were central points in President Kaïs Saïed’s speech. For months, the head of state has worked hard to slander the Tunisian justice system and denounce its mistakes. Finally, the facts show that it is just a hollow speech intended for the public.
We are 1eh November 2021, the head of state, Kaïs Saïed, receives the now distant minister of justice, Leila Jaffel. On this occasion, the President of the Republic declared: ” I have many documents that prove the misdeeds of some against citizens and therefore against the Tunisian people.”holding up a multi-page document with detail “real property fraudulently acquired by certain judges”. These unsubstantiated claims have characterized most of the speeches of the President of the Republic when it comes to justice. His accusations were systematically repeated and reinforced by the supporters of the President of the Republic. Many observers and political parties have called on the President of the Republic to stop talking and take action if the allegations are ever confirmed. It didn’t happen.
Let’s jump back in time. We are 1eh June 2022. The coup of July 25 and the implementation of extraordinary measures went through this, and the complaints of the President of the Republic in terms of justice remain the same. Kaïs Saïed even decided to dissolve the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and to appoint new members to it in an unprecedented attack on the freedom of justice. The head of state decides to give himself the right to dismiss the judges, and he will use it. It was on this date that the President of the Republic decided to publish a decree dismissing 57 judges. This decision will provoke the anger of the Tunisian judges and will trigger strike movements and hunger strikes led by the judges’ union structures.
On August 10, 2022, the spokesman for the Administrative Court, Imed Ghabri, declared on the IFM airwaves: “The administrative court decided yesterday, Tuesday, August 9, in favor of some of the dismissed judges and thus suspended the decision on their dismissal”. We will later learn that no less than 47 judges obtained a stay of the decision to dismiss them out of a list of 57 judges. However, the President seemed to have the best reasons in the world to carry out this dismissal. The Head of State said on several occasions to be in possession of solid files condemning the misdeeds of the sacked judges. In addition, the reasons for the dismissal of judges relate to serious criminal cases: Covering up terrorists, Obstructing the prosecution of suspects, Refraining from opening investigations in matters of national security, Intervention to protect political parties and personalities who are influential persons who are the subject of legal proceedings etc.
It turns out that the Ministry of Justice under the leadership of Leila Jaffel and under the order of the President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, was unable to provide evidence or material elements proving the guilt of the dismissed judges. The extension of the deadlines for the presentation of evidence, which the government requested from the administrative court, did not help the prosecution. The court then had no choice but to rule on the suspension of the judges’ dismissal decisions.
At the time of writing these lines, the President of the Republic has not yet responded to the blow in the face addressed to it by the Administrative Court. It is quite likely that Minister of Justice Leila Jaffel will pay the price for the president’s naivety in the matter of judges. It is likely that his dismissal is in the works. However, this in no way excuses the disastrous behavior of the President of the Republic, who seems to ignore that the monopolization of all powers also implies the assumption of all responsibilities. The head of state, Kaïs Saïed, assured at length that he had indisputable evidence, even waving documents on the screen. It turns out in the end that his evidence and his cases are not as solid as he thought. He did not hesitate to condone and even fuel the lynching, which targeted several judges, including a judge who saw his personal data and medical records shared on social networks. Kaïs Saïed did not miss an opportunity to incite the people against the judges and make them bear the responsibility for all the corruption that plagues the country. Today, the mythology built and nurtured by Kaïs Saïed has been destroyed by the administrative court’s decision.
It should also be remembered that the preparation of the list of 57 judges to be dismissed is also suspicious. In fact, it was made on the basis of vindictive safety reports that condemned all “stoppers to go around in circles” in the courts. The lawyer and Minister of the Interior, Taoufik Charfeddine, would also not be a stranger to the development of this list with his colleague, Leila Jaffel. The head of state, Kaïs Saïed, deliberately chose to ignore these circumstances and go blindly to the professional and social condemnation of dozens of people. It was only later, after learning of the report prepared by the Interim Superior Council of the Judiciary on the case, that the head of state became aware of his mistake. The interim CSM had confirmed that no charge is pressing against the majority of the dismissed judges.
It is unlikely that the President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, will issue a public apology for violating the dignity of dozens of people. He was guilty of a real scandal of state by acting either with vindictiveness or with naivety or by having been manipulated. In any case, the political responsibility for this scandal can only be borne by Kaïs Saïed, although it is likely that he will ignore it.