Tunisia has established a Supreme Judicial Council, which will overlook all judges in the country, a critical function in a country that is building up an independent judiciary after decades of dictatorship. The members of the Tunisian Council found out how their Belgian counterpart is doing it.
“Seeing how the Belgian Supreme Justice Council makes judges accountable without undermining their independence and how they constantly evaluate the functioning of courts and their engagement with citizens showed us a real-life justice system in a democracy.” This is how a Tunisian Council member describes his experience during a study visit from 19 to 25 November.
16 members of the Tunisian Council and a representative of the Ministry of Justice were welcomed and accompanied by their Belgian peers. Discussions covered among others internal rules of procedure; role of the councils in nominations, promotions, careers of judges; criteria of evaluation; role of commission of inquiries and opinions on project of laws; deontology; administration and finance; status of the Council members as well as mechanisms of the internal and external communication of the Council. The visit came at a critical initial period of formation and institutional development of the body, which held it’s first meeting only a few months ago.
The visit also provided a chance to meet EU interlocutors from the European Commission (EEAS, DG JUST and DG NEAR) and the European Parliament as well as representatives of the Belgian Ministry of Justice, European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, Réseau francophone des conseils de la magistrature judiciaire, European Judicial Training Network and the Belgian Institut de formation judiciaire.
Based on discussions and observations during the visit DRI will continue engaging with the Tunisian SJC in order to undertake planning of the most urgent assistance to be provided in the immediate period of the upcoming months.
The study visit was organised in the framework of DRI’s project “Support to Constitution Implementation in Tunisia – Phase II” funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.