On August 10, 2022, the Tunisian Administrative Court issued a decision accepting an urgent petition submitted by 50 judges to return to their duties and suspending a previous presidential decree to dismiss the judges. According to the court’s spokesperson, the court decided to accept the judges’ petition because it did not find any legal justification to suspend them and the files of the suspended judges contain no cited violations.
On June 1, 2022, President Kais Saeed issued Presidential Order No. 516, which suspended the service of 57 judges across the nation. Among the suspended judges was the chief judge of the Court of Cassation, Taieb Rached, and the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Youssef Bouzaker.
Statements of the Petitioners
According to media reports, Ahmed Sawab, a member of the judges’ defense committee, argued that the presidential decree to suspend the judges was based on reports submitted by the security apparatus to the president but that the ministry of interior (internal security) had not received any complaints against the judges.
Mourad al-Masoudi, the head of the Association of Young Tunisian Judges, echoed Sawab’s statement by declaring that the Administrative Court made its decision after it had discovered that the suspended judges had no criminal or disciplinary history in their files.
Reactions to the Court Decision
According to news reports, the Ministry of Justice declared its opposition to the decision of the administrative court and claimed that the dismissed judges have no right to return to work because they are subject to criminal proceedings.In contrast, the Association of Tunisian Magistrates and the Tunisian Association of Women Judges voiced their support for the court’s decision to suspend the presidential decree that dismissed their colleagues.