Minister of Justice, Mr Mohamed Saleh Ben Issa; Rachid Sabbagh, Minister of Defence, ret., Honorary President of the Administrative Court and President of the Court of Cassation, ret.; Patrick Schneider, IRZ (left to right)Minister of Justice, Mr Mohamed Saleh Ben Issa; Rachid Sabbagh, Minister of Defence, ret., Honorary President of the Administrative Court and President of the Court of Cassation, ret.; Patrick Schneider, IRZ (left to right)

On 7 and 8 April 2015 the IRZ organised a conference in Tunis on the subject of "The High Judicial Council and the Independence of the Judiciary". The establishment of a Judicial Council is one of the central topics in the Tunisian debate about the reform of the judicial system. The draft laws submitted by various institutions and stakeholders were discussed very intensively during recent years.

Large parts of the judiciary consider the greatest possible autonomy of the Judicial Council and the self-administration of the judiciary as an opportunity to learn lessons from Tunisia's authoritarian past and to create a genuinely independent judiciary.

The Ministry of Justice takes a different position. Its view is that ensuring the independence of the judiciary at all costs does not mean that all competences will and should be withdrawn from the Ministry. The controversial background to this process ensured meaningful and lively discussions and met with great interest above all from the Tunisian judiciary and Parliament.

The Tunisian Minister of Justice, Mohamed Saleh Ben Issa, who has only been in office for a short time, opened the two-day conference with rather critical words. The conference was covered by numerous media representatives from television, radio and the press (Al Jazeera, etc.). The agenda included presentations and discussions with regard to the following topics, among other things:

  • constitutional provisions and the independence of the judiciary,
  • tasks and composition of the High Judicial Council,
  • self-administration of the judiciary,
  • control of the judiciary under disciplinary law,
  • remuneration.

The views of the Tunisian contributors were always supplemented with presentations by two German judges about the situation in Germany in terms of comparative law and by contributions to the discussion regarding the pros and cons of specific regulations.

The IRZ will continue its cooperation with the Tunisian administrative courts in 2015 with expert seminars and conferences in Tunis. What is more, the IRZ will offer Tunisian administrative and constitutional judges study trips to attend expert talks and benefit from exchanges of opinion with their counterparts at the German Federal Administrative and Constitutional Courts this year.