Tunisia - annual report 2019

Study trip on the topic “Integrity of constitutional court judges“:  Prof. Gabriele Britz (centre), judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and press spokesman Dr Max Schoenthal (2nd from the right)
Study trip on the topic “Integrity of constitutional court judges“: Prof. Gabriele Britz (centre), judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and press spokesman Dr Max Schoenthal (2nd from the right)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Even eight years after the revolution, and although Tunisia has made significant progress towards a democratic constitutional state, the country is still not politically stable. After the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi, who was democratically elected in 2014, at the end of July 2019, presidential elections were held in September and October, from which the constitutional law expert Kais Saied, an independent candidate and political novice, surprisingly emerged as the winner. It remains to be seen which impetus this election will ultimately give to the political, economic and legal development of the country.

So far it is reasonable to assume that the newly elected President Saied will maintain the three policy pillars adopted by the former government:

  • security and enforcement of the rule of law,
  • strengthening of democracy and
  • continuation of economic development and implementation of the necessary projects.

Urgent reforms are also needed in Tunisia to stimulate economic growth. In spite of the difficult political and economic environment, the Tunisian authorities and civil society continue to drive the process of reforming legal and social policies. Despite numerous changes of government, many are working with tireless commitment and immense sincerity to democratise Tunisia.

Overall Concept

IRZ‘s bilateral project activities to support legal reform in Tunisia, which have continued since 2011, were further intensified at the beginning of 2017 by the joint declaration of intent on legal cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia. An initial work programme for the years 2017 and 2018 was brought to a successful conclusion as part of this declaration of intent. Subsequently, a follow-on work programme was adopted for the period 2019 to 2020, on which IRZ is currently working. Funded by the Federal Foreign Office, the project to promote judicial reform in Tunisia, that has been implemented by IRZ since 2017, was successfully completed after a term of over two years.

The Supreme Judicial Council is still the central project partner to IRZ within the Tunisian judiciary. Its task is to guarantee the independence of the Tunisian judiciary and, in this role, to provide additional security for the rule of law and for the rights and freedoms of citizens. It follows, therefore, that IRZ‘s activities in Tunisia are primarily focused on the independence of the judiciary.

So far, the Constitutional Court has not been able to formally commence its work due to continuing disagreement over the election of its members. Nonetheless, IRZ is continuing its work on issues of constitutional law, particularly in cooperation with the Tunisian „Provisional Commission to Review the Constitutionality of Draft Legislations“, which is tasked with performing matters of constitutional adjudication until the Tunisian Constitutional Court actually starts work. This consultation focuses on questions concerning the position and competences of a Constitutional Court within the judicial system.

Administrative court jurisdiction is also undergoing an intensive reform process with the aim of developing and adopting a law on administrative courts. The decentralisation process initiated in the course of the reforms was implemented both in the administrative sector and within administrative court jurisdiction in order to help enhance self-administration. IRZ also provides consultation to the Tunisian Administrative Court on practical issues of electoral disputes and election review procedures due to the great need for counselling in this area.

With regard to the penitentiary system, project work focuses mainly on reform approaches within the four-year plan to reform the judiciary and penitentiary system, which was adopted by the government for 2015 to 2019. The advice focuses primarily on issues of rehabilitation planning, preparing inmates for release, transition management and the resocialisation of inmates after release.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Conference in Tunis “Constitutional courts and their role in ensuring legal certainty“
  • Conference “The principle of proportionality: Importance, scope and control mechanisms“ in Tunis
  • Study trip of a Tunisian delegation to Karlsruhe, Hamm and Düsseldorf on the topic “Integrity of constitutional court judges“

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Participation of Tunisian experts in the International Conference on Competition in Berlin
  • Participation of Tunisian experts in the International Lawyers‘ Forum in Berlin
  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on the topic of “Consumer protection in the Tunisian and German legal system“
  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on the issue “Practical aspects of the Apostille process and notarial professional law“

Public Law

  • Seminar “Election complaints and the legal review of election results in election disputes“ in Tunis
  • Conference “Administrative justice and election disputes“ in Tunis

Administration of Justice

  • Seminar on the topic of “Judiciary and the media“ in Tunis
  • Round table discussion on “Coordination of legal cooperation with Tunisia“
  • Seminar in Tunis on the topic of legislation technique
  • Exchange of experience on the efficiency of the judiciary in Tunis

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Study trip by a Tunisian delegation to Berlin on the topic “Involvement of economic actors and adaptation of education and training opportunities taking into account the needs of the German labour market“
  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on “Combating corruption – mechanisms and prevention“
  • Symposium in Berlin on the practice of international legal assistance in criminal matters, with participants from the Ministries of Justice and the Public Prosecutors‘ Offices of Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia

Basic and Further Training

  • Seminar in Tunis on personal, social and methodological skills in professional practice (soft skills) for the judiciary

Outlook

The activities planned for 2020 continue to aim at strengthening the consolidation and implementation of Tunisia‘s new Constitution of 2014 and supporting both the judiciary and the executive in the forthcoming reform projects. IRZ plans to move forward with its assistance to the Constitutional Court until it is fully established and operational. The same applies to the Supreme Judicial Council as a means of ensuring the independence of the judiciary. Project activities will also prioritise the fight against human trafficking. This will be complemented by advisory services and training in the field of legislation technique, which will be aimed primarily at project partners at ministerial level. By supporting the drafting of good and effective laws, IRZ aims to contribute to strengthening legal certainty.

In addition, the implementation of the work programme between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia will continue in 2020. In particular, the work programme sets out cooperation in the fields of international private law, criminal law and criminal procedure law, combating corruption, human rights and consumer protection and the independence of the judiciary.

Tunisia - annual report 2018

Opening of the regional conference in Tunis to support in structuring the Tunisian Constitutional Court: among others, Taieb Rached (centre), President of the Provisional Instance to Review the Constitutionality of Draft Legislation, and Carsten Meyer-Wiefhausen (on the right), Deputy Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany
Opening of the regional conference in Tunis to support in structuring the Tunisian Constitutional Court: among others, Taieb Rached (centre), President of the Provisional Instance to Review the Constitutionality of Draft Legislation, and Carsten Meyer-Wiefhausen (on the right), Deputy Ambassador for the Federal Republic of Germany

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Arab Spring is widely considered to have originated in Tunisia. Despite strong reform efforts and an initial euphoria, the North African country continues to struggle with political and economic problems. There were nationwide protests and riots in early 2018, provoked by the poor economic situation in the country. Nevertheless, Tunisia is persevering in its efforts to introduce political reforms and to decentralise administration. In this regard, the local elections held in March 2018 represented another step forward in the political reform process.

Changes have also been noted in terms of the legal structures. The Supreme Judicial Council, whose members were elected for the first time in October 2016, is the self-regulatory body within the Tunisian judiciary. Preparations are also under way for the timely replacement of the Provisional Instance to Review the Constitutionality of Draft Legislation with an ordinary Constitutional Court. In addition, a number of commissions have been established to act as supervisory bodies, among them an Electoral Commission and a Commission on Policy to Combat Corruption and Good Governance. In spite of the difficult political environment, the Tunisian authorities and civil society continue to drive the process of reforming legal policies. Seeking to overcome the political crisis, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed initiated a cabinet reshuffle in November 2018, which also involved appointing a new Minister of Justice. Additional impetus for reform may result from the parliamentary and presidential elections that are scheduled for 2019.

Overall Concept

The IRZ has been carrying out bilateral legal reform projects with Tunisian partners within the framework of its institutional subsidy since as early as 2011. Support from the Federal Foreign Office as part of its transformation partnerships was added in 2012. Scheduled to run until the end of 2019, the IRZ has implemented, within the framework of its current project under the transformation partnerships, measures to support judicial reform in Tunisia since autumn 2017. Moreover, implementation of the work programme on the joint declaration of intent on legal cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia was extended from 2017 to 2018.

Following three years of intense and controversial discussions, the Supreme Judicial Council, which was newly elected in October 2016, should regulate the position of the judiciary within the Tunisian state structure and ensure its independence. In accordance with the new constitution of 2014, its establishment will be followed by the founding and development of the Constitutional Court, which will create additional security for the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of citizens. The selection process for members of the court is currently ongoing. Of the twelve members of the Constitutional Court, four will be chosen by the Tunisian Parliament. So far, however, Parliament has only managed to agree on the selection of one single candidate. Hence, the IRZ counselling work will mainly focus on issues that relate to establishment of the institution itself. Among the particular tasks in this regard are issues of court procedure and business processes, court administration and questions of funding.

Administrative court jurisdiction is also experiencing a significant reform process that is aimed at the drafting and passage of an administrative court act. Initial reform measures were implemented in 2018, but further efforts will be required in a variety of areas to ensure their finalisation.

Since 2011, all reform plans by the Tunisian government have prioritised reforms of the country‘s penitentiary system. In particular the conditions in Tunisian penitentiaries require comprehensive change and improvement.

So far, the issues of resocialisation and the release of prisoners have been dealt with as marginal issues but have now been assigned priority status. A Resocialisation Commission has been set up within the penitentiary authorities for this purpose. It brings together stakeholders entrusted with the resocialisation of inmates, with the aim of initiating sweeping reform of the penitentiary system and of placing a clear focus on the resocialisation of inmates.

Overall, the IRZ has continued to make a substantial contribution to the stabilisation process in Tunisia by providing counselling and education.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Study trip to Karlsruhe by Tunisian judges on the organisation of a Constitutional Court (court structure, court administration, case management)
  • Regional conference in Tunis with constitutional judges from Jordan, Morocco, Algeria and Germany to hold technical discussions and to support the establishment of a Constitutional Court in Tunisia

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Exchange of experience in Tunis on selected conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Study trip to Bonn by a delegation of the Tunisian Chamber of Notaries on the topic “Practical aspects of the issuance of an Apostille, as well as current issues within notarial professional law“
  • Study trip to Munich by a delegation of the Tunisian Competition Agency on the issue of “Procedures in the field of intellectual property protection and competition law according to the German practice“

Administration of Justice

  • Seminar in Tunis on the topic of “Administration and the role of the Ministry of Justice and Supreme Judicial Council within the judicial system in Tunisia“
  • Study trip to Berlin by a delegation of the Supreme Judicial Council of the Republic of Tunisia on the independence of the judiciary

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Study trip to Berlin by a Tunisian delegation on the topic of “Classification of inmates“ and “Transition management and post-release supervision in the penitentiary system“
  • Seminar in Tunis on international cooperation in criminal law, with particular consideration of extradition proceedings
  • Regional conference in Tunis on the topic “Deradicalisation of inmates within the framework of the rehabilitation plan for prisoners“

Project funded by the European Union

EU Twinning project: Renforcement des institutions de l’administration pénitentiaire

The final conference of the EU Twinning Project for reform of the penitentiary system was held in Tunis in a festive setting on 26 September 2018. The IRZ successfully implemented this project as a junior partner under the leadership of the French organisation Justice Coopération Internationale (JCI) between October 2015 and September 2018. The event was attended by high-level guests from the partner states, as well as by representatives of the beneficiary institutions in Tunisia (Ministry of Justice, Directorate General for Prisons and and Reeducation, National Academy for Prisons and Reeducation ).

Equipped with a budget of €1.8 million, the project achieved the following goals:

  • strengthening of institutional capacities at the Directorate General for Prisons and Reeducation through the provision of basic training to correctional officers;
  • support for reform of the National Academy for Prisons and Reeducation through the development of a new programme of training and courses;
  • establishment of a national probation system through the development of a new manual, as well as basic training for new probation officers.

Implementation of the project objectives took place within the framework of regular seminars, study trips and training courses in close cooperation between the expert team and the respective Tunisian partners. In addition, the technical experts from France, Germany and Spain worked with the Tunisian partners on the ground to produce proposals for the improvement of basic training for Tunisian correctional officers.

Given that an increasing focus is being placed on reforming the penitentiary system in Tunisia, a significant need for counselling in this field continues to exist.

Outlook

The most recent events in Tunisia make clear that the country still requires support in its democratisation and reform processes. Hence, the IRZ plans to continue its commitment in the aforementioned fields in 2019 as well. They are all highly topical and require sustained cooperation.

In regard to constitutional court jurisdiction, prioritisation should shift to the establishment and organisation of the Constitutional Court itself once the process of selecting the judges is complete. Cooperation with the prison administration will also proceed and will involve advice for the Rehabilitation Commission. A new work programme between the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia is in preparation for 2019 to 2020.

 

Tunisia - annual report 2017

Signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Tunisian Ministry of Justice and the BMJV: Ghazi Jeribi, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia; Christian Lange, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and vice-president of the board of trustees, IRZ (seated from left to right)
Signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Tunisian Ministry of Justice and the BMJV: Ghazi Jeribi, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tunisia; Christian Lange, Parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and vice-president of the board of trustees, IRZ (seated from left to right)

Legal Policy Situation

Six years after the revolution, Tunisia has made substantial progress towards a democratic state, however, it has not yet found its political stability. Since the revolution, there have been seven new governments, each lasting for an average of about eight months. In early August 2016, Prime Minister Habib Essid lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament after just 18 months in government. It is also due to this situation that the country finds itself in a critical economic and political phase.

The new government therefore intends to follow three primary lines of action: security and enforcement of the rule of law, entrenchment of democracy and continuation of economic progress, as well as the implementation of the projects required to bring about these developments. The new government has announced that it plans to implement urgent reforms, stimulate economic growth, create new jobs and improve communication with its people. The fight against corruption and terrorism continues to be the top priority. If the economic crisis in the North African country is not overcome in the coming year, drastic austerity measures, higher taxes and staff cutbacks in the civil service are inevitable.

Despite the difficult political framework conditions, Tunisian authorities and Tunisian civil society continue to push forward on the legal policy and social reform process. Therefore, even with numerous changes of government, the general impression seems to be confirmed that the democratisation process is being worked on with great commitment and seriousness.

In the judicial field, elections for the High Judicial Council have meanwhile been held; now the focus is on developing it. Following three years of intensive and controversial discussions about the High Judicial Council’s establishment and field of operation, the Council regulates the position and the independence of the judiciary in the Tunisian state structure. After forming the Council pursuant to the new Constitution of 2014, the Constitutional Court was established, which creates additional security for the rule of law and for the liberties and rights of the people. After the law on the establishment of the Constitutional Court came into force, for which the German side provided intensive consultation, the Constitutional Court can now take up its work formally. Issues of key interest now primarily relate to the institution’s actual establishment. This includes specifically the procedural and business procedures in court, court administration and questions of financing. There is a great need for advice here.

The administrative court jurisdiction also continues to undergo intensive reform efforts with the aim of developing and adopting a Code of Administrative Court Procedure. This process is already in its final stage. The presentation of the respective draft legislation is expected for early 2018.

Overall Concept

Since 2011, the IRZ has been carrying out bilateral legal reform projects with Tunisian partners within the framework of its institutional funding. With the support of the Federal Foreign Office, the IRZ has been active in Tunisia since 2012 as part of the “Transformation partnerships” programme. Since then, the IRZ has established itself firmly as a recognised player in the field of international cooperation on the rule of law. In addition to the grants from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the work of the IRZ in Tunisia will continue to be supported also by project funding from the Federal Foreign Office. This is how the IRZ will be able to implement a follow-up project to promote judicial reform in Tunisia between 2017 and 2019.

The IRZ will continue to provide advice and knowledge as part of Tunisia’s stabilisation process and can look back on respective success already within the framework of this approach. For example, the IRZ played a major role in the development of a national dialogue process regarding the penitentiary system or in drafting the Tunisian Constitutional Court Act. In its work, the IRZ relies predominantly on a partnership-based, comparative law approach and close regular contact with all project partners in Tunisia.

Foci of Activity 2017

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Participation by the President of the Tunisian Cartel Office in the 18 International Cartel Conference in Berlin
  • Participation by the President of the Tunisian Bar in the third International Lawyers Forum in Berlin

Administration of Justice

  • Conference on the topic “Independence of the Judiciary” in Tunis (in collaboration with the High Judicial Council of Tunisia)

Constitutional Law

  • Participation by two designated Tunisian Constitutional Court judges in the regional conference in Amman/Jordan on the position of the Constitutional Court within the judiciary

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Conference in Tunis on the topic of “Reforming criminal law in Tunisia” (in collaboration with the Tunisian Criminal Law Reform Commission)
  • Study trip by members of the Tunisian Criminal Law Reform Commission to Berlin on the topic of “Reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure”
  • Conference in Tunis on the topic of “International cooperation in criminal law with a focus on extradition proceedings”
  • Regional conference in Tunis on the topic of “Young offenders’ institutions, prison conditions and resocialisation”

Project financed by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Renforcement des institutions de l’administration pénitentiaire

The IRZ is currently implementing the EU Twinning project “Renforcement des institutions de l’administration pénitentiaire” on reforming the penitentiary system in Tunisia as a junior partner under the leadership of the French organisation Justice Coopération Internationale (JCI). The project began in October 2015 and has now been extended until the end of 2018. It has a total budget volume of around EUR 1.8 million. The Tunisian partners are the Ministry of Justice, the Directorate General for the Correctional Service and Resocialisation (DGPR) and the National Academy for the Correctional Service and Resocialisation (ENPR).

The main project aims are to establish capacities at the Directorate General for Correctional Services and Resocialisation, to support the National Academy for the Correctional Service and Resocialisation in their development of a new training and education programme as well as preparing a national concept to introduce a probation service in Tunisia step-by-step. The implementation of these three main components takes place within the framework of regular seminars, study trips and training events in close cooperation with the respective Tunisian partners.

The project experts from France, Germany and Spain work together on site with the Tunisian partners producing proposals to improve the training of the Tunisian enforcement officers and conduct seminars and training courses in Tunisia. The expert team of the project consortium mainly consists of members of the French National School of the Penitentiary Administration (ENAP), experts from German federal state ministries of justice as well as a team of practitioners from the penitentiary system with many years of experience in the management and deputy management of prison facilities in France, Germany and Spain.

Outlook

The IRZ plans to continue its commitment in the abovementioned fields in 2018. They are all highly topical and require sustained cooperation. In the area of administrative court jurisdiction, the focus is primarily on the implementation of the Code of Administrative Court Procedure, which is to be passed at the beginning of 2018. Regarding the work of the Constitutional Court, now that such a court has been established, issues relating to the structure and organisation of the Constitutional Court will come into focus.