Tunisia’s judges will suspend work in courts for a week and hold a sit-in to protest against a purge of their ranks.
President Kais Saied this week dismissed 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists in a crackdown on the judiciary – his latest step to tighten his grip on power in the North African country.
Judge Hammadi Rahmani said a meeting of judges on Saturday voted unanimously to suspend work in all courts, and to start the sit-in, Reuters reported.
On Saturday the Tunisian bar association announced a national strike in “all criminal, administrative and financial courts” for a renewable period of a week, starting Monday.
In a session attended by hundreds of judges, some of the dismissed judges said the purge came after they rejected interventions from the justice minister and in some cases from people surrounding the president.
Dozens of the judges present at the emergency meeting in Tunis strongly condemned the president’s continued interference in the judiciary, they said in a statement.
They accused Saied of giving himself powers to lay off judges “without the slightest recourse to disciplinary procedures, violating the most basic right to defense as guaranteed in the constitution.”
In February, Saied dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, which deals with the independence of judges. He issued a decree to establishing a temporary council that is not recognized by the bar association.