The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is deeply concerned about the recent attack by Tunisian President Kais Saied on the country’s judiciary. On July 25, 2021, President Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended Parliament, citing corruption and an inability to effectively address the country’s economic and health crises. Since then, President Saied has taken several steps to consolidate power, including removing judges and prosecutors from their positions, which undermines Tunisia’s democratic institutions and threatens the rule of law. This statement calls on the United States to use its influence to support the judiciary in Tunisia and defend democratic principles.
The Attack on the Judiciary
The judiciary in Tunisia is an essential component of the country’s democratic system. It serves as an independent body that upholds the rule of law and ensures that citizens are treated fairly and justly. However, President Saied’s recent actions have put this institution in jeopardy. He has removed judges and prosecutors from their positions, including those who were investigating corruption and human rights abuses. These actions undermine the independence of the judiciary and compromise its ability to carry out its essential functions.
Moreover, President Saied has created a “special court” that will handle cases related to terrorism and corruption. This court will be staffed by military judges, raising concerns about the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. The move is a clear attempt to consolidate power and remove any obstacles that may stand in his way. Such actions are unacceptable in a democratic society and pose a threat to the rule of law.
The Importance of the Judiciary in a Democratic Society
The judiciary plays a critical role in maintaining the integrity of democratic societies. It ensures that those in power are held accountable for their actions and that citizens are treated fairly and justly. Without a strong, independent judiciary, there can be no democracy. When leaders undermine the judiciary, they undermine the very foundations of democracy.
The United States’ Role in Supporting the Judiciary in Tunisia
The United States has long been a champion of democratic values and human rights around the world. It has supported democratic transitions in countries such as Tunisia and has provided assistance to strengthen institutions that are essential to democratic governance. The United States must use its influence to support the judiciary in Tunisia and defend democratic principles.
The recent actions of Tunisian President Kais Saied, which include the suspension of parliament and the dismissal of the Prime Minister, have been cause for concern in the international community. However, his attack on the judiciary, which he has accused of corruption, represents a dangerous and unprecedented escalation. This attack not only undermines the rule of law in Tunisia but also threatens the stability of the country’s democratic system.
The judiciary is a fundamental pillar of any functioning democracy, serving as a check on the power of the executive and legislative branches of government. Attacks on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary can have severe consequences for the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and the integrity of democratic institutions. President Saied’s accusations of corruption within the judiciary, made without evidence or due process, not only risk harming the reputation of individual judges but also undermine public trust in the judiciary as a whole.
Furthermore, President Saied’s actions are in clear violation of Tunisia’s constitution, which guarantees the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers. The constitution grants the President limited powers to ensure the proper functioning of state institutions, but these powers are subject to strict checks and balances. President Saied’s suspension of parliament and his attack on the judiciary represent a clear overreach of his constitutional powers and threaten to undermine the democratic principles enshrined in Tunisia’s constitution.
The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs therefore calls on the United States to use its influence to pressure President Saied to respect the independence of the judiciary and uphold the rule of law. The United States has long been a champion of democratic values and human rights, and it must continue to use its position as a global leader to advocate for the protection of these principles in Tunisia and around the world.
Specifically, we call on the US government to take the following actions:
– Publicly condemn President Saied’s attack on the judiciary and his suspension of parliament as a violation of Tunisia’s constitution and democratic principles.
– Work with Tunisia’s civil society, including human rights organizations, lawyers’ associations, and journalists, to support their efforts to protect the independence of the judiciary and promote the rule of law.
– Consider imposing targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans, on individuals within the Tunisian government who are responsible for or complicit in attacks on the judiciary and the erosion of democratic institutions.
– Suspend all arms sales and military aid to the Tunisian government until President Saied takes concrete steps to respect the independence of the judiciary and uphold democratic principles.
The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs believes that the United States has a moral obligation to support the people of Tunisia in their struggle for democracy and human rights. By taking these actions, the United States can send a clear message that attacks on the judiciary and the erosion of democratic institutions will not be tolerated and that the protection of these principles is a top priority for the United States and the international community as a whole.
The United States should also use its influence within international institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union to ensure that they are aware of the situation in Tunisia and take appropriate action. The international community must stand with the judiciary in Tunisia and support efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and defend the rule of law.
President Saied’s attack on the judiciary in Tunisia is deeply concerning and threatens the country’s democratic institutions. The United States must use its influence to support the judiciary in Tunisia and defend democratic principles. It should condemn President Saied’s actions, support efforts to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, and provide technical assistance and support to ensure that it can carry out its essential functions effectively. The international community must stand with the judiciary in Tunisia and support efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and defend the rule of law.