Tag Archives: UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Afghan lawyers and judges in danger

24/01/23

Today, January 24, marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. As a Canadian lawyer I want to draw attention to the challenges facing some members of the legal profession in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban government assumed power in the country more than a year ago, the risk of retaliation and danger have only increased for many lawyers and judges, particularly women, advocates say.

For Nasrin (whose name has been changed to protect her identity), leaving Afghanistan was the last resort.

She had spent decades developing pioneering legislation and policies as a judge and legal advocate. When the Taliban took over in August 2021, everything changed. Facing death threats, she ultimately left. “I didn’t have any choice,” she told me. “I left my country, my house.” Now she and other legal activists are warning about the ever-increasing risks that lawyers and judges in the country still face and the need for countries like Canada to step up their efforts to help at-risk Afghans.

“If a woman wants to be a leader, like head of a court … it’s a very big position, but it is very dangerous,” Nasrin says.

Judges like Nasrin, as well as prosecutors, have been threatened with reprisals from the people they tried and the Taliban themselves. She is in contact with colleagues in the legal profession who remain in Afghanistan, and says the situation is worse than a year ago, as lawyers and judges fear for their safety.

“The first line is judges, the second line is defence lawyers and prosecutors … they are searching to find them,” she says.

The development of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) in 2008 was part of a broader effort to build a non-governmental body that would regulate the legal profession and provide resources to support lawyers and access to legal services. But in November 2021, it was dismantled by armed Taliban soldiers and the Ministry of Justice gained possession of the AIBA’s database, containing contact information of members. The organization is now relaunching itself in exile, from Brussels.

[…]

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/43037/afghan-lawyers-and-judges-in-danger

https://amu.tv/en/33506/

International Day Of The Endangered Lawyer: “We Strongly And Unequivocally Condemn The Repressive Tendencies Of The Taliban Government In Afghanistan Towards Lawyers”- Maikyau

https://lso.ca/gazette/news/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-2023?lang=en-ca

https://charidy.com/AfghanWomen (PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)

https://zoom.us/rec/play/WXkxEyYXv5ZAen7O2varh9Ki_B7qCitqQjoNfZxmRrIZ6cITp1qWQ2dVYg1gYRYVLDVbuCHwW8XY1E3J.ZdDtRYfefnwmvALj

https://www.irishlegal.com/articles/afghan-women-judges-were-hunted-by-taliban-before-relocating-to-ireland

https://intr2dok.vifa-recht.de/receive/mir_mods_00014968

https://www.americanbar.org/advocacy/rule_of_law/blog/just-security-article-lawyers-under-threat/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/global-rescue-effort-tries-to-help-afghans-female-judges-escape-the-taliban-regime

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/outrage-as-afghan-judge-denied-permission-to-enter-uk/5114917.article

https://punchng.com/nba-president-demands-end-to-extrajudicial-killings/

https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:08f72d25-58c0-446c-888a-b56489eeb4da?viewer%21megaVerb=group-discover#DayoftheEndangeredLawyer

https://www.darivoa.com/amp/lawyers-in-Afghanistan-face-threats/6933046.html (DARI)

https://www.pashtovoa.com/a/us-special-envoy-for-afghan-women-says-will-stand-with-afghan-lawyers/6933080.html (PASHTO)

https://www.lextimes.fr/actualites/avocats-en-danger/treizieme-edition-consacree-lafghanistan (FRANCAIS)

https://www.tdg.ch/de-nombreuses-avocates-sont-menacees-de-mort-par-les-talibans-911401131682

https://lso.ca/gazette/nouvelles/journee-de-l%E2%80%99avocat-en-danger-2023

https://www.lexisnexislegalawards.co.uk/website/9292/shortlist/

Afghanistan: DAY OF THE ENDANGERED LAWYER – 24 January 2023

24/01/23

The FBE supports all those in danger in Afghanistan.  Since the capture of Kabul by the Taliban in 2021, the situation of lawyers, judges, and prosecutors in Afghanistan has worsened. Many were left stranded when Government evacuation efforts ended. The international  legal community campaigns to persuade governments to rescue legal professionals at risk. However, most governments evacuated their own nationals and those who had been employed by the respective Government or related bodies. Most Afghan legal professionals did not fall into either category, even though they had served those Governments’ interests by upholding the rule of law in their country. Many were actively involved in the prosecution of members of the Taliban and  are in great danger. The international legal community must act now to persuade more assistance to evacuate lawyers, prosecutors, judges and legal professionals at risk and to offer safe havens in their respective countries.

The FBE endorses the report of the Coalition for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and urges all to implement recommendations in particular:

  • The international community, in their diplomatic efforts toward the de facto authorities in Afghanistan, are urged to ensure the maintenance of a free and independent legal profession, in order to safeguard fundamental rights, including women’s rights, the independence and integrity of the administration of justice, and the rule of law.
  • The international community is urged to take all necessary measures to ensure that the lawyers at risk who remain in Afghanistan can safely leave the country. In particular:
  • To immediately implement evacuation and resettlement programmes for Afghan lawyers remaining in Afghanistan or located in neighboring countries.
  • To ensure respect for the principle of non-refoulement at all times.
  • To make humanitarian visas available to enable Afghan lawyers in need to access international protection legally and safely.
  • To ensure that all States suspend deportations and summary returns of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan or third states.
  •  To ensure that all States thoroughly investigate allegations of ill-treatment of Afghan nationals, especially in the States’ border regions and in removal centers in their territories.

[…]

https://www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/blogs-opinions/danger-to-lawyers-at-home-and-abroad-must-be-tackled-by-us-all/

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-afghanistan-2023

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/2023/january/international-day-of-the-endangered-lawyer

https://www.uianet.org/en/actions/13th-day-endangered-lawyer-focus-afghanistan

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2023/01/aba-president-statement-re-endangered-lawyer/

https://2k86.mj.am/nl3/9MUI9jpjAKJgvmFwBU6sEA (FRANCAIS)

London: a Human Rights Solidarity and Arrested Lawyers Initiative action

Brussels (Facebook, CCBE – Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe )

Day of the Endangered Lawyer 24th January 2023 13th edition – AFGHANISTAN

24/01/23

The 24th of January marks the annual International Day of the Endangered Lawyer. On 24 January 1977, 4 lawyers and a co-worker were murdered in Madrid. Since 2010, this date is remembered as The Day of the Endangered Lawyer with the purpose of increasing awareness about lawyers across the globe who are being harassed, silenced, pressured, threatened, persecuted and tortured because of their profession.

The 2023 edition aims to shed some light on the challenges faced by lawyers in Afghanistan.

The fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001 prompted the reconstruction, reform and modernisation of the war-torn Afghan judicial system and the legal profession. In 2008, the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (“AIBA”) was established. The AIBA administered the licensing and regulation of lawyers, promoted excellence and equal opportunity in the legal profession, trained future lawyers, and advanced the rule of law and social justice.

When the Afghan government fell in August 2021, two decades of progress were erased and the country’s judicial system collapsed. In November 2021, the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice issued a decree depriving the AIBA of its independence and its authority to grant licences to lawyers. Taliban forces started targeting lawyers who had previously worked on “sensitive” cases (e.g., cases involving the defence of human rights, including women’s rights, and other similar matters).

According to the AIBA, 7 lawyers have been killed since the dissolution of AIBA and 146 lawyers have been arrested or investigated.

[…]

https://www.aija.org/news/art311#:~:text=The%2024th%20of%20January%20marks,Day%20of%20the%20Endangered%20Lawyer.

https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2023/01/lawyers-and-the-legal-profession-face-extinction-in-afghanistan/

https://www.nycbar.org/media-listing/media/detail/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer-afghanistan-2023

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2397118/collapse-of-afghanistans-legal-system-is-human-rights-catastrophe-un-experts

https://www.lawsociety.ie/news/news/Stories/afghan-judges-speak

https://www.hilltimes.com/story/2023/01/23/progressive-afghan-women-in-dangerous-limbo-while-we-wring-our-hands-uselessly/361577/

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2023/Statement-from-the-CBA-President-Steeves-Bujold-on?lang=en-ca

https://www.camerepenali.it/cat/11783/giornata_internazionale_dellavvocato_minacciato_2023_24012023_-_focus_sull_afghanistan.html (ITALIANO)

https://www.cba.org/News-Media/Press-Releases/2023/Statement-from-the-CBA-President-Steeves-Bujold-on (FRANCAIS)

eSwatini/Swaziland: Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko shot dead

21/01/23

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko,the Chairperson of the MultiStakeholder Forum(MSF) has been shot dead.

The death of the prominent lawyer was confirmed by his wife Tanele Maseko on Saturday evening, he was gunned down at his home, Luyengo.

“It’s true,Thulani has been killed, bashaye waphola Nkhosi. Ubobuye ushaye kwanyalo kusenemaphoyisa,” said the wife to the late MSF Chairperson.

The death of the human rights lawyer comes a few hours after King Mswati warned those calling for democracy that his mercenaries would deal with them.

Eswatini is in the midst of a political unrest, Mswati has intensified the killing of political activists and human rights defenders.

http://www.swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=3732

https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/eswatini-statement-spokesperson-situation-country_en

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-thulani-maseko

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thulani_Maseko

(ITALIANO)

Afghanistan: International Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2023

20/01/23

The 24th of January has been designated as the annual International Day of the Endangered Lawyer in memory of the “Massacre of Atocha” occurred this day in 1977 when four lawyers and a co-worker were murdered and four others were heavily injured at their address at Calle Atocha 55 in Madrid.  

The purpose of this International Day is to draw the attention of government officials, international institutions, civil society, the media and the general public to the plight of lawyers in a particular focus country, to raise awareness about the threats the lawyers in that country face in the exercise of their profession. 

This year, the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer focuses on Afghanistan. 

The Coalition for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer has prepared a report about the justice system in Afghanistan, describing the extremely dire situation confronting Afghan lawyers today. 

The European Young Bar Associations, as part of the Coalition, strongly supports the recommendations provided in the Report addressed to the de facto authorities in Afghanistan, the international community, the European Union and its Member States, in order to improve the situation of Afghan lawyers in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. 

In addition to the limitations on fundamental human rights and reprisals against lawyers, judges and prosecutors that should be condemned, as an association representing young lawyers, the EYBA express its concern especially for the limitations to education and access to the legal profession imposed by the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice which affect the new generations, more than others. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (M.L.K).

Click here to download the full report:

Final version of the Report -Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2023- 2 (1)

Click to access 202301-stm-sr-ijl-sr-afghanistan-day-endangered-lawyer.pdf

https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/01/1132662

https://www.globalissues.org/news/2023/01/20/32861

https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/politics/2326737-afghanistan-collapse-of-legal-system-is-human-rights-catastrophe

https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/un-experts-legal-professionals-afghanistan-face-extreme-risks-need-urgent-international-support

https://www.bbc.com/persian/live/afghanistan-64329705 (DARI)

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/01/international-day-endangered-lawyer-24-january-2023 (FRANCAIS)

https://news.un.org/fr/story/2023/01/1131517

https://latribune.avocats.be/index.php/fr/journee-de-l-avocat-en-danger-dediee-aux-avocats-afghans

https://latribune.avocats.be/fr/du-cote-des-institutions-europeennes-janvier-2023

https://www.lemondedudroit.fr/institutions/83102-observatoire-international-avocats-danger-oiad-lance-campagne-soutien-plaidoyer-barreau-independant-afghanistan.html

https://www.abogacia.es/fr/actualidad/noticias/el-abogado-afgano-hossain-haydari-llega-a-espana-gracias-al-apoyo-de-la-fundacion-abogacia/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elespanol.com/mujer/20230121/khadija-amin-periodista-refugiada-afgana-espana-prision/734926733_0.html

Afghanistan: Male judges and prosecutors left behind in ‘forgotten crisis’

17/01/23

The Taliban’s increasingly draconian policies in Afghanistan, the return to Sharia law and attacks on women’s rights have rightly drawn the world’s attention. However, almost 18 months after the Taliban seized power, there are growing calls to ensure that Afghan men, including those working in the legal profession, are also safe from harm.

Imogen Canavan, a Legal Consultant at the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law, has worked closely with the IBA and the International Association of Women Judges to evacuate vulnerable Afghans since August 2021. As part of these efforts, hundreds of female judges deemed to be at risk were evacuated alongside their families and have since been resettled in Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Iceland.

While Canavan says these efforts are to be hugely commended, she’s increasingly concerned for the safety of male judges in Afghanistan who are now being forced to impose Sharia Law. ‘One of the focuses for me as a consequence of this work has been the male judges, because I feel like they’re a much bigger group,’ she says. ‘There are about 200 female judges, but there are about 2,000 male judges. What we see in terms of security risks for them is mostly kidnappings of the eldest son. They usually want the judge to present themselves to the Taliban in exchange for the son. Then often we anticipate that this would be likely to result in killing or certainly torture. There’s extortion as well.’

Safiya was an Afghan national working in the UK last August when the Taliban seized Kabul. Though she had no previous links to the legal profession, she, like Canavan, found herself fully immersed in the evacuation efforts. Safiya has watched in horror at how women have been steadily removed from nearly all areas of public life in Afghanistan, but says many male judges could be even more at risk than their female counterparts. ‘A lot of very well-known male judges were left behind,’ she says. ‘That’s the thing that upset me the most because all these men at the top of their field were getting in touch with me, but there was no evacuation mechanism for them. They’re the ones that are most in need now.’

Canavan says it was also a mistake that prosecutors weren’t deemed at risk enough to be evacuated by governments and humanitarian organisations in the wake of the Taliban takeover. ‘They are being attacked with knives and guns and their homes are being burnt down,’ she says. ‘Like legal academics, this group has not been prioritised, has been left behind and nobody’s thinking about them.’

[…]

https://www.ibanet.org/Afghanistan-Male-judges-and-prosecutors-left-behind

Click to access ILAC_Afghanistan_Report_2023-2.pdf

https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/01/1132662

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/2023/january/afghan-judges-to-speak-at-dublin-event

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-taliban-appear-to-be-making-kill-lists

https://news.un.org/fr/story/2023/01/1131517 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.barreaubruxelles.be/component/k2/item/1079-24-janvier-2023-conference-de-presse

The Philippines: Complaint on killings of lawyers, prosecutors, judges filed with UN to hold PH ‘accountable’

10/11/22

A complaint to hold the Philippine government accountable for the attacks and killings of lawyers, prosecutors and judges has been filed before the United Nations (UN).

The complaint was filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) before the office of UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges Margaret Satterthwaite in Geneva, Switzerland.

NUPL is a member of the of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch.

Incidentally, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla will leave for Geneva on Friday, Nov. 11, to lead the Philippine delegation for the 4th Cycle of the UPR of the Philippines, a preview mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The UPR is “a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.”

In its complaint, the NUPL cited that it has “recorded 86 killings of lawyers, judges and prosecutors among a total of 262 work-related attacks in the past 15 years.”

“Five of the victims of killings were NUPL members whose clients include indigenous peoples, peasants, farmers, workers, environment advocates, political prisoners and human rights defenders,” it said.

[…]

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2022/11/04/2221337/aguirre-denies-forcing-ragos-testify-vs-de-lima

https://www.philstar.com/nation/2022/10/29/2220009/ragos-says-he-was-forced-testify-vs-de-lima

Morocco: L’avocat Mohamed El Haini suspendu par le Barreau de Rabat

20/10/22

Le Barreau de Rabat a suspendu l’avocat Mohamed El Haini de ses fonctions pour une durée de 3 ans, lors d’un conseil de discipline tenu mardi 18 octobre 2022.

Cette décision a été prise pour des “raisons disciplinaires”, “suite à des accusations de propos violents et insultants contre un bâtonnier du barreau de Rabat et son Conseil”.

Réagissant à cet arrêt, l’Association de Défense des Droits de l’Homme a affirmé, dans un communiqué, qu’”elle a été étonnée par une telle décision prise par une ancienne entité connue par son militantisme de défendre les droits de l’Homme, de la liberté d’expression et de la profession de l’avocat, considérée comme une véritable école de droit au fil des générations”.

L’association a rassuré, dans le même communiqué, tous ses membres et a indiqué qu’”elle entend contester cette décision auprès de la Cour d’appel de Rabat et que le différend sera résolu sur la base de la sagesse, de la patience et de la loi”.

https://lematin.ma/express/2022/lavocat-mohamed-el-haini-suspendu-barreau-rabat/382160.html

https://www.lopinion.ma/Polemique–Mohammed-El-Haini-rejoint-le-Barreau-de-Rabat_a22626.html

https://www.ohchr.org/fr/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/basic-principles-role-lawyers

https://news.eseuro.com/noticias/1067087.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.ohchr.org/es/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/basic-principles-role-lawyers

https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/basic-principles-role-lawyers (ENGLISH)

The Path to Tunisia’s 2022 Constitutional Referendum

19/07/22

Tunisia is preparing for a constitutional referendum set to take place on July 25, 2022, exactly one year after the country’s President Kais Saied set the country on an alarming trajectory. This explainer unpacks how Saied has spent the last year dismantling the independence of the judicial and legislative branches and expanding his executive authority, and details how he threatens to make permanent these steps in a new constitution.

One year of Saied’s ‘state of exception’

On July 25, 2021, Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, suspended the activities of the Assembly of the Representatives, and lifted parliamentary immunity; on July 29, he issued Presidential Decree No. 2021-80 to formalize these steps. Thereafter, he stated that he would head the executive branch alongside a new prime minister, who was eventually announced to be Najla Bouden

On September 22, 2021, Saied declared that he would rule by decree virtue of Presidential Decree No. 2021-117 which suspended major constitutional articles and reaffirmed the previously-announced measures subverting parliamentary privileges. This step gave the president the right to rule by decree over various areas including the judiciary, the military, civil society associations, and political parties while exempting him from judicial review. Since then, Saied’s legislative and executive powers have continued to grow exponentially in the face of undermined oversight mechanisms.

These developments occurred as Saied planted the seeds for a “new political roadmap” that was rooted in a national narrative of fighting corruption and conspiracy, and holding “traitors” to account. As he did so, he declared that the 2014 constitution would no longer be valid and that the new roadmap would be based on “legal solutions” grounded in “the will and sovereignty of the Tunisian people.”

One of the steps to translate Saied’s vision into reality became the National Consultation Process, which took place between January 1 and March 20, 2022 and served as a stepping stone for the political and electoral reforms that were to come. The consultation proposed a series of questions, with specific pre-drafted answers regarding electoral, political, economic, educational, and social issues for eligible Tunisians to select from. Despite the fact that the consultation engaged only 508,000 participants, Saied declared the process a success and proceeded with his plan to implement its alleged input into next steps. Observers and experts critiqued the consultation for its low participation and methodology which resulted in unequal representation, particularly with regards to gender and region. Head of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) Noureddine Taboubi condemned the failure to inclusively involve national actors from the beginning of the consultation. In its latest urgent opinion, the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe that is composed of constitutional law experts, found fault in the president’s roadmap more generally and cast doubt over the possibility of arriving at a “constitutional synthesis” with a consultation that “ did not give rise to widespread popular support, as participation remained very little.” 

In a step that further ate away at checks and balances more generally, on February 12, 2022, Saied dissolved the Higher Judicial Council (HJC) via Decree No. 2022-11. The HJC had been promulgated in the 2014 constitution and was the highest judicial oversight body in the state. Saied’s decree replaced the HJC with a Provisional High Judicial Council, retaining the same composition of the HJC, though altering the number of judges and the appointment process, and empowering the president to act as a disciplinary power and request removal of members. These changes tightened the executive branch’s control over the judiciary and expanded the president’s powers and influence. Months later, Saied would amend Decree No. 2022-11 with Decree No. 2022-35 on June 1, 2022, giving him the power to dismiss judges if they harmed the independence or the integrity of the judiciary; the amendments paved the way for the sacking of 57 judges, per Presidential Order No. 315-2022

[…]

Key takeaways from the constitution

Consistent with the unilateral approach that Saied has taken in setting forward the political roadmap and constitutional drafting process detailed above, the latest version of the draft constitution that Tunisians are set to vote on incorporates Saied’s narrative into the preamble. It claims that July 25, 2021 was a “correction of the Revolution’s path and that of history,” and that it will enable the country to move into a “new phase in history”—an expression Saied has used multiple times in his remarks and rhetoric. The preamble refers to the national consultation process and inflates its legitimacy, stating that “hundreds of thousands of citizens” participated.

Most significantly, Saied’s draft constitution seeks to create what has been described as a “hyper-presidentialist” system, where the president has extensive executive and legislative authorities, with little checks over them. The draft grants the president executive powers found in presidential systems, while also affording him legislative powers typically enjoyed by the head of government in parliamentary systems. While Tunisia’s 2014 constitution distributed these powers between the head of government and the president in a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system, Saied’s draft seeks to concentrate them, not only making the president the most consequential actor in policymaking, but also making him omnipotent, in a manner similar to the 1959 constitution.

Saied’s draft eliminates parliament’s ability to vote to impeach the president prior to adjudication by the Constitutional Court, as had been set forth by the 2014 constitution. Moreover, while the government had previously been accountable to parliament under the 2014 constitution, this draft makes the government accountable to the president, who will also enjoy the authority to appoint and dismiss the head of government and other government ministers. The new draft keeps the infamous Article 80 of the 2014 constitution—which Saied relied on to declare emergency measures under a state of exception. However, the provision is now found in the form of Article 96, which eliminates the temporal deadline to lift these emergency measures and the Constitutional Court’s ability to rule on the validity of said-measures. In eliminating these safeguards, Saied makes the provision identical to Article 46 of the 1959 constitution and further expands the president’s authorities

Also similar to the 1959 constitution, Article 116 of the new draft stipulates that in case of a second vote of no-confidence against the government, the president has the right to accept the government’s resignation or dissolve one or both chambers of parliament. Although parliament in theory can still pass a vote of no-confidence against the government—albeit with difficulty as it requires a two-third majority of both chambers—its oversight power has been further constrained alongside the president’s expanded authority. 

In the new draft constitution, the president enjoys expansive legislative powers at the expense of a severely-weakened parliament. He has the authority to suggest draft bills, as well as the authority to issue decrees that enjoy the force of law during parliamentary recess periods or when parliament is dissolved. The draft stipulates that the president can also call for legislative and constitutional referendums without prior parliamentary approval. On the flip side, while parliament does enjoy the authority to draw up bills that are supported by a minimum of 10 MPs, it cannot pass legislation that touches on the president’s administrative powers or on financial issues. Important to note that until a sitting parliament is elected, Saied will continue to enjoy the legislative power that he has been exercising vigorously. 

While the new constitution establishes the National Assembly for Regions and Districts as the second chamber of parliament, it does away with an entire chapter on decentralization, previously present in the 2014 constitution and heralded at the time as an important success. The draft instead stipulates that local governance will further be expanded on in the law, leaving the matter outside of the constitution and raising concerns that the president may further weaken local powers, including through future amendments to the Local Authorities Code and the Electoral Law. 

The draft constitution also curtails the powers of the judiciary. It eliminates the single Higher Judicial Council that was elected and tasked to manage all types of judicial jurisdictions, and replaces it instead with three higher councils that will oversee each type of jurisdiction individually—the details of which will be left to the law; it does not guarantee their independence. Leaving this to the law, rather than protecting judicial independence at the constitutional level, creates concern that the judiciary’s role will be even further weakened down the line and its independence, further compromised. The draft dedicates a chapter to the Constitutional Court, separating it from that of the remainder of the judiciary, and changes its composition. Unlike the 2014 constitution, under which the Constitutional Court was selected by the Higher Judicial Council, parliament, and the president and was composed of judges and professors from different fields, the draft creates a court composed only of appointed judges based on seniority.

The draft constitution does away with a number of independent entities created by the 2014 constitution to act as safeguards for rights and freedom by establishing additional oversight over state institutions. The draft keeps only the Independent High Authority for Elections, albeit without specifying whether its members will be elected by parliament as had previously been the case. Though the draft does recognize and protect individual rights and freedoms, an unusually-constructed Article 5 sets forth the state as the sole entity responsible “to work, in the context of a democratic system, to fulfill the “maqasid [purposes] of Islam,” raising concerns about the state’s role in interpreting religion and on how this will manifest in practice. Civil society organizations have also raised concerns about the draft’s failure to explicitly prohibit the military trial of civilians. 

Ultimately, Saied’s constitution threatens to enshrine a system of governance in which the president enjoys expansive and in many cases, unchecked authorities, while the legislature and judiciary become seriously constrained, functioning with limited, if any, independence and autonomy. The draft is a reflection of a process that has lacked transparency, inclusivity, and accountability since day one and that threatens to formalize the actions that were taken in an alleged “state of exception,” grounding Tunisia and the Tunisian people further in an alarming and undemocratic pathway.

https://www.dw.com/en/tunisia-votes-on-problematic-new-constitution/a-62556649

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/23/popular-march-against-tunisias-new-constitution

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/07/tunisia-presidential-decrees-undermine-judicial-independence-and-access

(SIGN THE PETITION!)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/18/tunisia-president-kais-saied-one-man-rule/

https://pomed.org/snapshot-yea-or-stay-away-kais-saieds-autocratic-referendum/

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/22/opponents-of-tunisias-new-referendum-unable-to-unite-before-vote

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2022/07/21/tunisias-president-is-pushing-an-ominous-constitution

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/news/tunisia-unseco-envoy-sacked-over-opposing-judges-dismissal

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO2207/S00128/tunisia-presidential-decrees-undermine-judicial-independence-and-access-to-justice-says-un-expert.htm

https://www.ohchr.org/fr/press-releases/2022/07/tunisia-presidential-decrees-undermine-judicial-independence-and-access (FRANCAIS)

https://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/tunisie-des-arrestations-musclees-lors-d-une-manifestation-anti-saied-20220722

https://www.lepoint.fr/afrique/tunisie-le-pharaon-de-carthage-24-07-2022-2484212_3826.php

https://information.tv5monde.com/afrique/tunisie-un-apres-le-coup-de-force-du-25-juillet-kais-saied-perd-de-plus-en-plus-d-allies

(SIGNEZ LA PETITION!)

https://www.nouvelobs.com/monde/20220722.OBS61200/tunisie-kais-saied-ou-la-derive-autoritaire-d-un-president.html

https://www.tunisienumerique.com/limogeage-de-57-magistrats-anas-hmadi-appelle-kais-saied-a-revenir-sur-sa-decision-video/

https://information.tv5monde.com/afrique/referendum-en-tunisie-que-prevoit-le-projet-de-constitution-du-president-kais-saied-465381?amp

https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/230722/en-tunisie-le-referendum-sur-la-constitution-revele-la-fragilite-de-la-democratie

https://arabic.euronews.com/2022/06/10/tunisia-judges-threaten-extend-strike-second-week-dismissal (ARABIC)

International Lawyers Form Alliance to Protect Rule of Law in Mexico and US

14/07/22

Two legal groups—one in Mexico and the other in the United States—have agreed to work together to protect the rule of law in both countries.

The New York City Bar Association’s Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and the Mexican Bar Foundation have agreed to form a joint committee that will focus on strengthening judicial and democratic institutions in both countries.

“The rule of law is suffering today in Mexico,” said Enrique González Calvillo, chair of the board of trustees at the Mexican Bar Foundation and founding partner at González Calvillo Abogados, a large Mexican law firm. “The Vance Center’s support and experience will be absolutely key to us.”

Inaugural members of the joint committee include Todd Crider, partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Antonia Stolper, of counsel at Shearman & Sterling. Both attorneys have focused on Latin America throughout their careers.

Mexican lawyers are engaged in a delicate dance to preserve the independence of the judiciary under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose six-year term began in late 2018.

The president has labeled Mexican lawyers who defend international companies “traitors” and has accused Mexico’s judicial branch of being at the service of private interests.

Critics say López Obrador has also stacked the Supreme Court with supporters while working to discredit other democratic institutions that provide much-needed checks and balances in a country with a long tradition of authoritarianism.

“Weakened rule of law in Mexico will also affect the United States, as an erosion of our institutions would affect Mexico,” said Simpson Thacher’s Crider.

[…]

https://www.law.com/international-edition/2022/06/14/international-lawyers-form-alliance-to-protect-rule-of-law-in-mexico-and-us/?slreturn=20220614042657

https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/vance-center-for-international-justice-committee