March 11, 2015
The Justice Observation Network in Tunisia: topical cases under the magnifying glass
Tunis, 11 March 2015 – The establishment of an impartial, independent and accessible judicial system is a guarantee for access to justice and the right to a fair trial in Tunisia. The Justice Observation Network (ROJ, Réseau d’Observation de la Justice) is continuing its work by observing topical cases relating to the consumption of drugs, torture, the fight against terrorism, civil liberties and transitional justice. Created in 2012 by the Tunisian National Bar Association (ONAT), the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH) and Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), the ROJ is an original tool, the only one of its kind, for monitoring the reform process in Tunisia.
Tunisia is still facing a number of challenges even as it emerges from its transitional period. The judicial system must be reformed and trust between the populace and the justice system must be established.
The ROJ aims to encourage the adoption and effective application of international standards in the administration of criminal justice and to ensure the effective participation of civil society and legal professionals in the process of judicial reform in Tunisia.
“The rights and freedoms of any individual, without discrimination, must be guaranteed in the long term. This is why the judicial system must be thoroughly reformed”, explains Hela Ben Salem, coordinator of the ROJ.
In its initial phase (2012-2014), by observing 171 hearings relating to 94 trials, the ROJ noted practices that were not compliant with international standards and made recommendations to put an end to certain failings.
Thanks to the second phase of the project, observations of trials are continuing and more specific recommendations will be shared. “Observing trials on given topics will make it possible to bring technical and specific expertise in order to contribute to reforming the system. We also hope to result in changes to the professional practices of members of the judiciary, both at the level of lawyers and bars, and at the level of judges and prosecutors”, explains Hela Ben Salem.
The ROJ is composed of 45 observing lawyers, journalists and members of civil society. Thanks to their mobilisation, these volunteers will observe more than 600 hearings by the end of 2016 in most of the governorates of Tunisia.
On the basis of information collected during observations, several activities will be undertaken to achieve the aims of the ROJ: analysis of this information by a group of experts, production of topical reports, round tables, lectures and follow up on recommendations. This work will be carried out by the executive committee of the ROJ and the volunteer observers, with the support of other partner associations working in the area of access to justice and the defence of rights and liberties.
The ROJ is funded by Open Society Foundations.
Download the ROJ’s press release in Arabic and check the ROJ’s Facebook page.
Cover picture: Hela Ben Salem, coordinator of the ROJ © ASF/H. Gebs