Tunisia dispatch: striking Tunisian lawyers rally against government overreach Dispatches
© JURIST // Abir Khlif
Tunisia dispatch: striking Tunisian lawyers rally against government overreach

In an unprecedented move, striking lawyers across Tunisia rallied in front of court buildings in Tunis on Thursday, effectively bringing all court proceedings to a halt. This unified action comes in response to what legal professionals are describing as a dangerous escalation by the government targeting their community.

The spark for this widespread protest was a bold raid on the Lawyers’ House in Tunis that took place on Saturday, May 11. Masked security forces, claiming to act on an arrest warrant against lawyer Sonia Dahmani, stormed the building, causing chaos and fear among those present. The aggressive tactics used during the raid, including violence against some lawyers, have sparked condemnation and outrage within the legal community.

In the wake of Monday’s raid, the National Council of the Bar released a multipoint statement:

1. Condemning the attack on the Lawyers’ House, a legally protected institution.
2. Calling for a nationwide strike in all courts on Monday, May 13, 2024.
3. Organizing a national protest in front of the Palace of Justice in Tunis on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
4. Boycotting the public prosecution for three days, starting from Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
5. Holding a press conference to clarify the circumstances surrounding the raid.
6. Filing criminal complaints against those responsible for the raid.
7. Establishing a Lawyers’ Observatory to document rights violations.
8. Calling for unity and solidarity among lawyers.

The lawyers’ strike began Monday in Tunis itself, as planned. But today’s mass protest alongside the strike has been deemed more successful due to lawyers opting to demonstrate in addition to striking.

The response from the legal community highlights the gravity of the situation and their determination to protect the independence and integrity of their profession. As the strike and protests continue, all eyes are on the outcome, with many hoping for a swift resolution that upholds the principles of justice and the rule of law.