In April 2013, the CEELI Institute led the 11th session of its exciting course to train Tunisian judges in judicial integrity and human rights, Judging in a Democratic Society. With funding and support from the Swedish International Development Agency and the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the partnership of the CEELI Institute and the International Bar Association (IBA) has now provided nearly 900 Tunisian judges with the tools to transition effectively to their new role in a more democratic society.

Since March 2012, the CEELI Institute and IBA partnership has run two courses per month for approximately 30 judges.  The course stresses the leadership role courts play in society, the importance of judicial independence, and political issues of leadership. Consistent with these ideas, the course provides training in a variety of areas, including the role of a judge in a democratic society, tools required to make courts fair and efficient, judicial independence, ethics, relations with the public and with other branches of government, court administration, human rights principles, and transparency in procedure and decisions.  Judges that participated in the course have highlighted the immediate positive impact the training will have on their work, such as recognizing the necessity of maintaining ethical principles and the method of preparing judicial decisions.

Participating judges have come from across the judiciary: from housing tribunals (le tribunal immobilier), to tribunals of first instance, to the court of appeals in Tunis (le cour d’appel de Tunis). The wonderful judges CEELI Institute has worked with so far include a Juge au tribunal de première instance au Sidi Bouzid, the President du tribunal d’immobilier de Siliana, the Substitut du procurer General de la cour d’appel de Tunis, and the Première vice president à la cour d’appel de Monastir.

The faculty members the CEELI Institute has brought to Tunis have been both extremely well-received by the participant judges and uniformly impressed by the judges with whom they have worked while there.  The faculty has included U.S. Federal District Court judges, U.S. Federal Appeals Court judges, a former Chief Justice of Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court, a judge from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, judges from the High Court in Prague, and a judge from the Misdemeanor Court of Zadar, in Croatia.  Participants have described  the faculty in the following ways:

  • He is a great Judge. He talks with so much enthusiasm and fervor, denoting great seriousness and sense of pride in his work. I envy the litigants who have him as a Judge.
  • [She was a] woman of character who believes firmly in what she does and in the message of judicial work.
  • [He posed] precise questions; able to manage and deeply discuss all topics, had insights into the problems of the Tunisian judiciary, especially about judicial independence and methods of implementation during current transitional period.

The CEELI Institute looks forward to continuing to train these exemplary judges.