JUDGE MUKHTAR YAHYAOUI’S OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BEN ALI
I send you
this letter to inform you of my condemnation of the catastrophic state which
the Tunisian justice system has reached. Things have come to such a point
that judicial authority and judges have been stripped of their
constitutional prerogatives and are no longer performing their
responsibilities in the service of justice as an independent institution of
the Republic. It is precisely this independence that lets the judiciary
contribute to building the future of their nation and to the fulfillment of
their appropriate role in the protection of Rights and Liberties.
judges at all levels are frustrated and exasperated by their forced duty to
deliver verdicts which are dictated to them by the political authorities and
which are not open to impartial thought or criticism. This practice results
in judicial decisions which, more often than not, reflect nothing but the
interpretation of law that political authority wishes to impart.
interference and harassment, Tunisian judges no longer have any room to
perform their duties. Treated with arrogance and working in a milieu of
fear, suspicion and paid informants, members of the judiciary are confronted
with means of intimidation and coercion that shackle their will and prevent
them from voicing their true convictions.
dignity is insulted daily and their negative image in the heart of public
opinion is mixed with fear, arbitrariness and injustice, to the point that
the sole fact of belonging to our profession is degrading in the eyes of the
oppressed and people of honor.
Tunisian justice system is subject to the implacable tutelage of a class of
opportunists and courtiers who have come to constitute a veritable parallel
justice system, one that is located outside all legal norms and that has
bought out the National Council of Judges and the majority of sensitive
positions in other courts. Ignorant of the very notions of impartiality and
objectivity, their harmful actions have come to substitute the idea of
independence with that of resignation [the two terms are phonetically
similar in Arabic—NDLT]. This has engendered a real feeling of
discouragement among the truly impartial judges. Blocked from playing the
role to which they aspire, these judges are not able to assume their
responsibilities, nor exercise their skills in the service of justice or in
the interests of their country.
the class of bought judges does a brisk trade with its allegiances, imposing
a spirit of dependence and submission, running against all ideas of change
and creative adaptation, and zealously identifying itself with the regime
currently in power. Their objective is to systematize the conflation of the
current regime and the State, corrupting all institutions. This behavior,
which breeds discord and confrontation, constitutes in reality the true
danger to order, security and stability.
practice of our profession has allowed us to appreciate the true reality
lived by judges and this has incited us to forego the duty of silent reserve
to which we are held. In a situation where all the possibilities of
dialogue, however stormy or unstable, have been shut down, silence can no
longer be an option, and the cry of our consciences rings out like a
necessity which I can ignore no longer, even if it is our prisons which
should paradoxically be the place for us to find dignity, freedom and a
President, your constitutional responsibilities make it your duty to take
decisions that require the removal of all interference with justice and with
the institutions of the State, in such a way as to permit, to all citizens,
the effective exercise of the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. It
is this condition which will make possible the true changes which our people
desire; it will be in the true interests of our country.
President, Chambre au
Tribunal de Première Instance, Palais de Justice, Tunis.