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.


Tunisia - annual report 2016

Conference to reform the prison system in Tunisia on the topic of “The imprisoned citizen” in Tunis with the Head of the Prison Service, Sabeur Khefifi (2nd from right)

Conference to reform the prison system in Tunisia on the topic of “The imprisoned citizen” in Tunis with the Head of the Prison Service, Sabeur Khefifi (2nd from right)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Five years after the revolution, Tunisia has still not found its political stability. Since the revolution, there have been seven new governments, on average a new one every eight months. In early August 2016, Prime Minister Habib Essid lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament after just 18 months of government. The country therefore finds itself in a critical economic and political phase. Important pillars for the future government will be the security and the implementation of the rule of law , the anchoring of democracy and continuation of the economic development, as well as the implementation of the projects necessary for this.

The new government has announced that it plans to implement urgent reforms, stimulate economic growth, create new jobs and communicate better with the general public. The fight against corruption and terrorism continues to be the highest priority. If the economic crisis in the North African country has not yet been overcome in the forthcoming year, drastic savings measures, higher taxes and staff cutbacks in the civil service can be anticipated.

In spite of the difficult political framework conditions, Tunisian authorities and Tunisian civil society continue to push forward the legal policy and social reform process. The improvement of the security situation in the second half of the year had a positive effect on tourism and the investment climate in the country.

In the judicial field, elections to the so-called High Judicial Council and its establishment must be mentioned first as landmarks in 2016. 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. Following its formation pursuant to the new Constitution of 2014, the Constitutional Court was established, which creates additional security for the rule of law and for the freedoms and rights of the country’s citizens. Intensive German advice was provided for the statute on the establishment of the Constitutional Court, so the IRZ will also support the reform process with future events.

The administrative courts have also continued to undergo intensive reform efforts in 2016 with the aim of developing and adopting a Code of Administrative Court Procedure. This process is in the final phase and draft legislation is set to be submitted at the start of 2017. In this context, numerous individual questions arise, which are repeatedly discussed in different forms at IRZ events.

Continuing reform efforts have also been pursued in the prison system since 2011. The major structural issues, such as for example prison overcrowding, alternative criminal sanctions systems, the social rehabilitation of convicts, etc., still require considerable effort. In this context, the Tunisian government has developed a systematic reform approach and passed a four-year plan from 2015 to 2019 on the reform of the judiciary and the prison system, which the IRZ supports with advice.

Foci of Activity 2016

Constitutional Law / Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Participation by three future Tunisian Constitutional Court judges in the constitutional conference in Amman
  • Delegation trip to Germany by Tunisian parliamentarians

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Conference in Tunis on the topic of the “Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation” in Tunis

Administration of Justice

  • Delegation trip to Germany by the Tunisian Ministry of Justice on the topic “Organisation and management of the office of the Minister of Justice”

Public Law

  • Conference in Tunis on the topic “Legislative consultation on the new Tunisian Administrative Courts Act”
  • Conference in Tunis on the topic “Legal remedies and administrative court decisions”

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Study trip to Germany on the topic “Reform of the prison service”
  • Conference in Tunis on the topic “Preconditions for a modern prison service as regards building conditions and under aspects of re-socialisation”
  • Conference in Tunis on the topic “Classification of prisoners”
  • Conference in Tunis on the topic “The arrested citizen”

EU Twinning Project

Outlook

The IRZ plans to continue its commitment in the abovementioned fields in 2017. They are all of high topicality and require sustained cooperation. The focus of the administrative courts is primarily placed on drafting a Code of Administrative Court Procedure. As regards the constitutional courts, once a new Constitutional Courts Act has been passed, issues relating to the structure and organisation of the Constitutional Court will in particular be the focus of attention.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.