Seminar on reforming the judiciary and optimising the length of legal proceedings in Tunisia.
Seminar on reforming the judiciary and optimising the length of legal proceedings in Tunisia.

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Tunisia remains in a phase of political upheaval. After President Kais Saied suspended the parliament in the summer of 2021, the Tunisian people voted in a referendum on the 25th of July 2022 on a new constitution, which was adopted with 92 percent of the votes cast. Voter turnout was around 30 percent.

The Tunisian population was called to elect a new parliament on the 17th December 2022. The turnout continued to decline compared to the previous election. Various opposition parties had called on voters to boycott the election. Electoral law has been highly personalised, which has significantly weakened the role of political parties in the new electoral system.

These current political developments – which have persisted into 2023 – are being observed with considerable concern.

From a social and economic perspective, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine have led to a high inflation rate of up to 9 percent at times, which led to an increase of costs of living.

Tunisia continued with its reforms in the area of the judiciary in 2022, despite the political upheaval. The Tunisian Ministry of Justice developed an action plan for the reform of the judiciary for the years of 2022–2025. It prioritizes modernising and digitising the judiciary, optimising the length of proceedings, promoting the independence of the judiciary and on combatting and preventing corruption.

Overall Concept

Cooperation between IRZ and Tunisia is based on the Memorandum of Understanding on Legal Cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia that was concluded in early 2017 and updated in 2022. Among other aspects, this agreement prioritises criminal law and criminal procedure law, court organisation, digitisation of the judiciary, the establishment of commercial jurisdiction and policy to combat corruption.

In 2022, IRZ also implemented a project to support the reform process in the area of the rule of law in Tunisia as part of the “Ta’ziz- Partnership for Democracy” that was initiated by the Federal Foreign Office in 2021.

Aside from the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, the General Prosecutor’s Office is among the long-standing project partners of IRZ. Other important partners for cooperation in Tunisia – depending on the thematic priorities – include individual departments of the Tunisian judiciary, the National Bar Association, the university sector and the Centre of Legal and Judicial Studies (CEJJ), which works on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

In addition to priorities that have been addressed continuously for many years such as promoting the independence of the judiciary, this year IRZ has prioritised issues such as digitisation and modernisation of the judiciary and judicial administration and the expansion of electronic legal transactions. Other priorities also included reforming and increasing the efficiency of the Tunisian judicial sector. IRZ also continued its consultations on criminal law reform and deepened the cooperation in the area of commercial law.

Established in 2018, the regional office in Tunis assists with the implementation of IRZ project activities both in Tunisia and throughout the North African region.

Focus of Activity in 2022

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Workshop on “Arbitration” with the German Arbitration Institute (DIS) and the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, the Centre of Legal and Judicial Studies and the Faculty of Law in Tunis
  • Online penal discussion on modernising the land register system and cadastre

Administration of Justice

  • Exchange of experiences with the administrative heads of various courts on concepts and methods of internal and external judicial communication, on business processes and on the determination of personnel requirements for the purpose of improving the efficiency of the court administration
  • Regional online conference on “Digitisation of the judiciary, electronic legal transactions and data protection” with participation of the Tunisian Ministry of Justice
  • International event on “Optimising the length of proceedings and trials” to promote the efficiency of the judiciary with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, the Centre of Legal and Judicial Studies, the Court of Cassation and the Property Court

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Exchange of experiences with the Tunisian penitentiary authority on the methodology of drafting individual penitentiary plans as a basis for preparing prisoners for release and for successful reintegration following their release from prison as precondition for reducing the recidivism rate

Basic and Further Training

  • Two workshops on the conception and reintroduction of a specialist qualification in “legislative studies” at the legal education and training institutions in Tunisia with lecturers from the Faculty of Law of the University in Tunis
  • Blog on African and German law “IRZ Dialogue Juridique Afro-Allemand” with continuous online publications in the form of articles by authors in German, Arabic and French on current legal policy topics from the partner states of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Senegal as well as from Germany.

Outlook

Based on the current reform requirements, the IRZ activities planned for 2023 are aimed at continuing to support the implementation of legal and judicial reforms in Tunisia. Cooperation in the areas of private international law, civil and criminal procedure law, policy to combat corruption and the independence of the judiciary will remain important issues.

At the same time, IRZ is planning several events with the Tunisian partner organisations in 2023. They will be a component of the project “Support for the modernisation of the judiciary in Tunisia in the area of criminal law and legislation techniques”, which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office.

It remains to be determined how the cooperation can be continued considering the current political developments. Nevertheless, the aim is to maintain the cooperation, with the purpose of promoting the rule of law and democratisation.

Please find the Annual Report 2022 here: Media centre – Annual reports.