On the margins of the UN open briefing, a side event was held featuring Mr. Khaled Ayari, Chief Justice of the Tunisian Court of Cassation, who discussed national judicial reforms. Held at the International Organization of the Francophonie, the Chief Justice elaborated on the challenges faced by the judicial unit responsible for adjudicating crimes under the new anti-terrorism bill of 2015. The Global Center, with expert support from the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and funding from the European Commission, is engaged in an ongoing program to support Tunisian national judicial institutions. The project aims to enhance the capacity of judges and national training institutions in Tunisia to adjudicate terrorism cases in full compliance with the rule of law and international human rights.
While Tunisia is undergoing significant legislative efforts in the field of counterterrorism to align its laws and procedures with the 2014 constitution, judges of a newly-created counterterrorism judicial unit struggle to handle tremendous caseloads which present myriad complexities. The Chief Justice described the scope of cases being handled, the mechanisms to protect the rights of the accused, as well as the ongoing national debate regarding the composition of the Supreme Judicial Council.