Tunisia


    Tunisia adopts pioneering law on violence against women
    15.08.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    On July 26, Tunisia’s parliament adopted a law to fight violence against women, becoming the first Arab country to do so. This was the culmination of a long struggle by feminists, lasting more than 20 years. MPs present in parliament that evening unanimously approved the new Organic Law on Elimination of Violence against Women. The law’s adoption stirred emotions among most women MPs (72 out of a total 217), who launched cries of joy in parliament. Tunisia thus becomes the first Arab country and the 19th in the world to adopt legislation on fighting violence against women.  The new law is...

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    Guilt and denial at Tunisia’s Truth Commission hearings
    31.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission launched its public hearings on November 17, 2016 to shed light on nearly 60 years of human rights abuses. With 10 of the 20 planned hearings now having taken place, we look at the Commission’s half-way record. In Tunisia, the hearings’ official launch in a luxury club belonging to former First Lady Leyla Trabelsi Ben Ali sought to prove wrong the accusations of Commission inertia by leaders of Nida Tounes, current President Beji Caied Essebsi’s party, whilst most local media and politico-financial circles remained loyal to former president Ben Ali....

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    Tunisians tell Truth Commission of stolen elections
    28.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunis

    Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission has already held ten of its 20 planned public hearings. The last one, on July 21, examined the issue of electoral fraud under former presidents Bourguiba and Beni Ali. Mohamed Bennour, an activist of the centre-left Democratic Socialist Movement (MDS) – founded in 1978 by Ahmed Mestiri, former minister and dissident from Bourguiba’s regime -- was victim of several violations linked to electoral fraud. In 1981 he announced his candidacy for legislative elections that the authorities announced as “pluralist” and which raised much hope among Tunisians....

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    Tunisia plans amnesty for corrupt public employees
    18.07.17
    Olfa Belhassine, correspondent in Tunisia

    With many of its articles removed, Tunisia’s law on “economic reconciliation” looks likely to be adopted by parliament in the coming days. But the text is still imperfect and remains controversial.  Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, President Beji Caied Essebsi presented to the cabinet his proposed law on “Special measures concerning reconciliation in the the economic and financial field”. This Bill was submitted to parliament shortly afterwards, but has continued to raise protest, not only in parliament but also on the streets and amongst national and international organizations. One of the...

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    Long road to justice for Tunisian torture victim in Switzerland
    14.06.17
    Frédéric Burnand, correspondent in Geneva

    In 2004, Abdennacer Naït-Liman filed a complaint in Geneva to obtain reparations for torture suffered in the Tunisian Interior Ministry in 1992. However, it was in vain. Now the case of this Tunisian exiled in Switzerland is before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the highest court of appeal on the continent. Depending on the outcome, this case could open a new path for torture victims in countries of asylum. “We are opening doors in the hope that victims of international crimes like torture and war crimes can have other recourse than criminal trials,” said...

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    Week in Review: Surprise clampdown on corruption in Tunisia
    29.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Tunisia remains in the forefront of transitional justice with a surprise move this week on financial transparency. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed arrested suspected leaders of trafficking and corruption. These people are talked about in an International Crisis Group (ICG) report, “Blocked Transition: Corruption and Regionalism in Tunisia”. Tunisians, used to impunity for politicians and their clans, can hardly believe this news, explains JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. At stake is not only the past but also the present. According to ICG, all key sectors in Tunisia are...

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    Tunisia: Empowerment through the Arts
    01.05.17
    Sahar Ammar

    The sufferance marking the legacy of sixty years of dictatorship cannot be felt, touched and expressed through the sophisticated speeches of politicians and government members. It is only through the stories of victims that pain and hope can be crystalized. The bridge between the darkness of the past and the lightness of the future can be truthfully and faithfully revealed in the honest tears of a mother who wants to bury her son, in the deep breath of a prisoner for whom torture became a matter of daily routine and in the harsh guilt of someone who witnessed the persecution of his friends...

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    Tunisia : Men and Boys Are Victims Of Sexual Violence, Too
    28.03.17
    Kelli Muddell, Director of the ICTJ's Gender Justice Program and Sibley Hawkins, ICTJ Program Officer

    Something unusual happened on the first day of the public hearings being held by Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission. Sami Brahim came forward to give personal testimony of having survived sexual violence in prison during the Ben Ali regime. Mr. Brahim told the hundreds of Tunisians listening in the room, and thousands more following live on TV and the Internet, about his arrest as a student in the 1990s and his experience of abuse and torture while in jail: "All the prisoners were stripped, the young and the elderly. For an entire week, everyone was kept naked. Why? What...

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    Week in Review: Tunisia’s difficult transition, no justice for Syria and Sri Lanka
    06.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In Tunisia, a lawyer is fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis use. The issue might seem marginal in comparison with war crimes and crimes against humanity. But for him, imprisonment of mostly young cannabis users under a law of the former Ben Ali regime, is proof that the country’s democratic transition still has a long way to go.  Lawyer Ghazi Mrabet is fighting to scrap “Law 52”, and he is not alone. Both Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and President Beji Caied Essebsi also say they want the law revoked. “This lawyer and human rights activist is now urging a presidential pardon for...

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    Rewriting Tunisia’s history to preserve dissident memories
    10.01.17
    Olfa Belhassine

    A third survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer research body aims for reform of Tunisia’s history teaching manuals. History and memory are a central concern of victims in Tunisia, according to a survey by the Transitional Justice Barometer. There is a persistent feeling that the authorities have forgotten or are even deliberately denying historical events related to dissidence that have taken place in the contemporary period. Six years after the revolution, only small changes have been made to history textbooks in schools. The Transitional Justice Barometer is a social science...

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    Week in Review: Tears for Tunisia and the ICC, money for the CAR
    21.11.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The first public hearings of victims started this week in Tunisia while the International Criminal Court (ICC), holding its annual Assembly of States Parties, suffered criticism and a new symbolic departure – that of Russia, which has signed the Treaty of Rome (founding treaty of the ICC) but not ratified it.  “Public hearings of Tunisian victims of dictatorship over more than 50 years (1955-2013) started on Thursday at the Club Elyssa, property of the former First Lady,” writes JusticeInfo’s Tunis correspondent Olfa Belhassine. “Seven victims of grave human rights abuses, selected by the...

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    Anger and tears as Tunisians relive torture years
    18.11.16
    AFP

    As anger erupted and the tears began to flow, four hours of testimony on live television by abuse victims shone a rare spotlight on the crimes of Tunisia's dark dictatorship years. In a plain white room inside a night club once owned by a dictator's entourage, victims of torture and abuse joined bereaved relatives to deliver an unprecedented account of the violence and intimidation Tunisians endured over decades of despotic rule. "We will not be silent," said Ourida Kadoussi, whose son was killed by security forces during the 2011 uprising against the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "We...

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    Tunisia still waiting to get Ben Ali clan funds back from Switzerland
    10.11.16
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    More than five years after the Tunisian revolution, 43 million Swiss francs from the corrupt system of former dictator Ben Ali remain blocked in Switzerland.  In April 2014, Tunisia thought it would be able to recover 35 million placed in the Swiss branch of HSBC bank by Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of the dictator, after the Swiss authorities decided the money could be transferred to the new authorities in Tunis. Bizarrely, Tunisia has never made any moves to get back the other 8 million, which belongs to other members of the Trabelsi-Ben Ali clan. However, the Swiss federal...

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    Tunisia is losing its dreams of justice, warns expert
    09.11.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    Wahid Ferchichi is a professor of public law, expert in transitional justice and researcher at the Centre Kawakibi for democratic transitions, an independent research body on developments in Tunisia since the political upheavals of January 2011. After the fall of Ben Ali, he was amongst the first to demand transitional justice (TJ) in Tunisia. Three years after the passing of an organic law on TJ and nearly two years after the setting up of the Truth and Dignity Commission, his recent address to the national congress on transitional justice* reflects his disillusion with a process called for...

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    Is Tunisia ready to listen to victims?
    03.11.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    After several postponements, Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, which was officially set up on June 9, 2014, will finally hold its first public hearings of victims this November 18. This key moment in the Tunisian transitional justice process nevertheless faces three major risks.  The November 18 event will be broadcast with a slight delay by Tunisian television stations. It is the Commission that will give the green light to the channels that want to broadcast it. The victims and witnesses, after being coached by the Commission’s teams, will talk about the various violations they...

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    “Tunisia must work on tracking assets abroad”, says ICTJ expert
    29.09.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    Ruben Carranza is director of the Reparations Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and an expert in tracking dictators’ money. It is thanks to him that the Philippines, his home country, managed to recover funds of former dictator Marcos. In this interview with JusticeInfo.Net, he suggests ways that Tunisia could recover some of the ill-gotten gains of the Ben Ali clan. JusticeInfo: Six years after the revolution, Tunisia has still not managed to recover the ill-gotten gains of Ben Ali and his family, which are held in various banks throughout the world. What...

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    Tunisia: the price of economic reconciliation in the transitional justice process.
    24.08.16
    Geeta Koska

    In recent years the involvement of economic elites and business in corruption has come under increasing scrutiny. In response, transitional justice has also come under pressure to address the link between the private sector, corruption and human rights violations during conflicts or a period of repression. In Tunisia, the transitional justice process has opted to engage non-judicial mechanisms to tackle the role of economic elites in corruption. However, it will be argued that truth commissions of this kind are not sufficient to achieve justice and support the transition to a stable...

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    Week in Review: Corruption, Conflict and the Search for Reconciliation in Colombia
    14.08.16
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

      It was a calm week in transitional justice, but JusticeInfo.net continued to follow the chaotic transition in Tunisia with a look at corruption. In an interview with JusticeInfo, anti-corruption magistrate Ahmed Souab explains that despite the promises of different governments, justice has not been delivered on cases concerning malpractice of the old regime. “I accuse the Tunisian justice system not of moving at a snail’s pace but of not having moved at all on these cases,” he says. “I also accuse the structures representing magistrates of failing to exert pressure to get these cases...

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    Life Under Threat for a Young Tunisian Homosexual
    28.07.16
    Olfa Belhassine, Tunis correspondent

    Ahmed Ben Amor, 20, whose touching story JusticeInfo reported in February 2016, made an attempt at suicide on July 9. Homophobic threats had become too much for this brilliant young man, who was until two years ago studying at the élite Mahdia school on the Tunisian coast. His life changed when he was rejected by his family because of his homosexuality. He was also excluded from all high schools in Tunisia and harassed by police for the same reason, in a country where homosexuality is still a criminal offence. In Tunisia, Article 230 of the Penal Code, which dates from 1920, provides for...

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    Tunisia: Amnesty Bill Would Set Back Transition, says HRW
    15.07.16
    Human Rights Watch, Tunis

    A proposed “economic reconciliation” law will provide amnesty for public officials and state employees for acts related to financial corruption and misuse of public funds. The law would sabotage the mechanism Tunisia already put in place to address economic crimes through a mix of public truth-telling, restitution, and judicial flexibility, Human Rights Watch said.   Tunisia’s government adopted the draft law on “Reconciliation in the Economic and Financial Sectors” on July 14, 2015, and forwarded it to parliament. A public uproar halted parliamentary debate on the bill at that time, but on June 29, 2016, the general committee on legislation started debating it. The president of the...

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