5 February 2015
Tunis, 5 February 2015 – Following the legislative and presidential elections, ASF (Avocats Sans Frontières) is welcoming the end of the transitional period, and is calling upon the new Tunisian authorities to speed up the reforms of the justice sector. The NGO is urging them to attach the utmost importance to the defence and respect of human rights.
A little more than four years after the revolution began, Tunisia now has a new democratically-elected assembly and government. The new authorities will be able to speed up the process of reforming the justice sector. “We now need to give substance to the reforms in order to restore that essential bond of trust between citizens and the justice system”, recommends Martin Causin, ASF Head of Mission in Tunisia.
In order to restore this trust and to bring about a high-quality justice system, ASF has identified three main priorities: “It is necessary to continue the transitional justice process established in the organic law of 24 December 2013 and the reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in particular regarding custody, and to improve access to justice within a reasonable time frame”, urges Martin Causin.
ASF is advocating a reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 13 of which will shorten the duration of custody and will establish the right to have a lawyer present during interrogations and to have access to files. At present, a lawyer cannot intervene at the custody stage. However, “for access to justice to be guaranteed in practice, every detainee must actually be accorded the right to high-quality defence from a legal professional at all stages of the procedure, including during custody”, reiterates the ASF Head of Mission.
ASF is calling for this reform of the Code of Criminal Procedure to be made a priority by the new Tunisian authorities. The NGO is reiterating that it remains available to provide support and guidance during this process.
Alongside these essential reforms of the justice system, other challenges abound, in particular when it comes to freedom of expression, legal aid, administration of justice, the fight against impunity and the respect of economic and social rights. “These issues must also be central to the actions of Tunisian decision-makers”, concludes Martin Causin.