Tunisia – annual report 2020

Online expert talk on consumer protection during the COVID-19 pandemic with Dr Dorothee Weckerling-Wilhelm, Head of Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
Online expert talk on consumer protection during the COVID-19 pandemic with Dr Dorothee Weckerling-Wilhelm, Head of Division at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

Even ten years after the revolution Tunisia has not achieved political stability, although it has made significant progress on the road to becoming a democratic constitutional state. The constitutional lawyer Kais Saied, an independent candidate and political novice, was the surprise winner of the presidential elections in September and October 2019. Parliamentary elections in October 2019 also resulted in strong fragmentation in the composition of parliament. This presented obstacles to the formation of a government, and agreement on a new cabinet was not reached until February 2020.

President Saied continued the reforms initiated by the previous government in the areas of promoting democracy, the rule of law and economic recovery. Policy to fight corruption and counter terrorism remain the top priorities. But the economic crisis has not yet been overcome, which has led to austerity measures, tax increases and job cuts in the public sector.

Tunisia also suffered economic setbacks due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In spring, the Tunisian government showed an early response to contain the pandemic by introducing travel restrictions, suspending public services and curtailing public life. But the collapse of tourism and the cessation of production in many companies led to a heavy loss of jobs. The judiciary was also caught unawares by the restrictions. Many courts, authorities and other public institutions were unable to operate or only to a very limited extent. This made it difficult for citizens to access the legal system and judiciary for weeks. In addition, the government issued numerous ordinances with the force of law in the spring, when parliament was unable to meet due to the pandemic, prompting political and legal debates about a possible threat to parliamentary democracy.

Despite the difficult circumstances and numerous changes of government, Tunisia continues to show great commitment to the legal and social reform process.

Overall Concept 

The bilateral project activities in support of legal reform in Tunisia that were launched by IRZ in 2011 are currently based on the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia that was concluded in early 2017. IRZ has already successfully implemented two work programmes between 2017 and 2020 as part of this Memorandum of Understanding. The Supreme Judicial Council is a key project partner for IRZ in these work programmes, in addition to the Tunisian Ministry of Justice. The Provisional Authority for the Examination of the Constitutionality of Draft Laws (IPCCPL), the Administrative Court, the Chamber of Notaries and the Bar Association, the General Directorate of Prisons and Rehabilitation, the Centre of Legal and Judicial Studies (CEJJ) as well as the National Anti-Corruption Authority (INLUCC) and the Association for Consumer Protection are also important partners for cooperation in Tunisia, depending on the area in question.

In addition to long-standing priorities, such as promoting the independence of the judiciary, attention shifted to some extent in the reporting year to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public life and the judiciary. This brought issues such as digitisation of the judiciary and expansion of electronic legal correspondence to the forefront of cooperation.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability 

  • Online exchange of experiences “State action in times of crisis and the principle of proportionality – implications for everyday life and the judiciary” with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice and the Centre of Legal and Judicial Studies (CEJJ)

Civil and Commercial Law 

  • Online conference “Proportionality of restrictions associated with COVID-19 and its impact on contract law by “force majeure”
  • Online conference “Apostille, new technologies and German-Tunisian relations” in cooperation with the Tunisian Chamber of Notaries
  • Online expert talk “Protecting consumers – good legal guidelines and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic” with employees of the Tunisian Association for Consumer Protection (ODC)
  • Trilateral online exchange of experience with the Tunisian and Moroccan Ministries of Justice on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Administration of Justice

  • Online conference “Digitisation of the judiciary” with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice
  • Online regional conference “Electronic legal correspondence – digitisation of the judiciary” in cooperation with the German Federal Bar
  • Support for the technical library at the Tunisian Ministry of Justice

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on “Combatting corruption in sports handling of sports law” with the National Anti-corruption Commission in Tunisia
  • Online seminar “Reforms in Tunisian criminal law and criminal procedural law” with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice

Basic and Further Training

  • Development and editorial work of an IRZ departmental blog on German and African law
  • Print magazine “Juristische Blätter” in cooperation with the University of Tunis El Manar (Faculty of Law and Political Sciences)


The activities planned for 2021 will continue to aim at supporting the implementation of judicial reform in Tunisia and will remain focused on current need for reform, such as in civil and commercial law. A new work programme for the years 2021 to 2022 will be introduced to continue the interministerial cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Tunisian Ministry of Justice. It will include, in particular, cooperation in the areas of international private law, criminal law and criminal procedural law, combatting corruption, consumer protection and the independence of the judiciary. The year 2020 demonstrated without a doubt that efforts are necessary to ensure more comprehensive and effective digitisation within the Tunisian judiciary. Penitentiary law and administrative court jurisdiction will equally be featured in the advice and consultation provided by IRZ.