The head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Youssef Bouzacher, confirmed that the members of the Council will fight a battle to preserve the independence of the judiciary, and that they have sworn an oath to perform this task, in accordance with the provisions of the law and the constitution, after the decree of Tunisian President Kais Saied canceling all privileges and grants granted to members of the Council.

"We see that what has happened now is the interference of the executive authority through decrees in the budget of the Supreme Judicial Council, and what is worrying about this is the prejudice to the constitutional status of the Council."

Buzacher saw that what was stated in the Presidency of the Republic’s statement regarding the suspension of granting members of the Council, and the information added to it related to the value of grants received by each member of the Council, an insult to the Council and an attempt to portray them as opportunists, pointing out that defining these privileges came in a participatory manner with the Ministry of Finance and with the General Legislation Committee Inside the People's Representative Council.

He added, "I want to mention that we worked without these grants for 10 months during the focus of the Supreme Judicial Council, and we will continue to carry out our duties in the absence of these grants and privileges because we believe in our role in preserving the independence of the judiciary."

He believed that the judiciary has become a target, and that the President of the Republic has placed the judicial issue at the center of his concerns, acknowledging in turn that the sector needs reform, but in a participatory manner, and in light of constitutional guarantees of the independence of the judiciary.

The Tunisian president (right) had previously accused the judicial system of corruption and called for its reform (social networking sites)

Why did the president not dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council?

Regarding the president’s failure to directly dissolve the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and merely stop the grants for its members, Buzacher believed that if the president did so, he must necessarily declare that the Supreme Council of the Judiciary represents an imminent danger, which did not happen.

At the conclusion of his speech, he stressed that the Council is open to any dialogue with the aim of reforming the entire judicial system, but not individually or in the manner envisaged by President Kais Saied.

The Tunisian president issued a decision yesterday, Wednesday, canceling all privileges and grants granted to members of the Supreme Judicial Council, in a move that many judges described as provocative, and that it comes in the midst of the independence battle that the judicial body is waging with the authority after the July 25 procedures.

A brief statement by the Presidency of the Republic indicated yesterday evening, Wednesday, that the President signed a decree amending Basic Law No. 2016-34 dated April 28, 2016 relating to the Supreme Judicial Council, and stipulating an end to the grants and privileges granted to members of the Supreme Judicial Council.

An update was added to the report, minutes after its publication, regarding the value of the grant received by members of the Supreme Judicial Council, along with gasoline receipts.

The Supreme Judicial Council is “a Tunisian constitutional institution that guarantees, within the scope of its powers, the proper functioning of the judiciary and the independence of the judiciary in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and international treaties ratified in the 2014 constitution.”

Since taking office, President Qais Saeed has not stopped making stinging accusations against the entire judicial system, and the attack intensified after his exceptional measures announced on July 25, according to which he froze the work of Parliament, dismissed the prime minister, and assumed all powers.

Saeed had previously stated, during his meeting with a group of judges, that the judiciary is a job, that power and sovereignty are for the people, and that decisions are issued in the name of the Tunisian people.

And the fears of a wide range of judges that the president would go to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council as a retaliatory measure was reinforced after judicial structures announced their categorical rejection of the procedures last July 25, according to which Saied froze the work of Parliament and announced his presidency of the Public Prosecution.

The Supreme Judicial Council announced, in more than one statement, its refusal to prejudice the constitutional structure of the judiciary through presidential decrees, and the judges also considered that the reform of their Council passes through constitutional principles and not by using exceptional measures.