Tunisia Fee Releases Remaining Report on 50 Years of Dictatorship

TUNIS — The Reality and Dignity Fee of Tunisia launched its closing report this week on greater than 50 years of dictatorship within the nation, a devastating, 2,000-page archive of torture and human rights violations that’s supposed to forestall the return of authoritarian rule.

The president of the fee, Sihem Bensedrine, unveiled the doc at a ceremony in Tunis on Tuesday and posted all the Arabic-language doc on the fee’s web site.

The report is the product of 4 and a half years of investigation by the fee, which was mandated by a Constitutional Meeting after Tunisia’s fashionable rebellion of 2010 and 2011. That revolution impressed Arab Spring revolts throughout North Africa and the Center East — most of which had been adopted by violent crackdowns and energy struggles, if not civil battle.

After the revolution in Tunisia, nevertheless, leaders sought to forestall a backslide to authoritarianism, creating the fee to unveil the reality of crimes within the nation from 1955 to 2013, protect the proof for public reminiscence and suggest instances for prosecution.

The present president, Béji Caïd Essebsi, was named by the fee for his function in human rights violations in 1963, in the course of the presidency of Habib Bourguiba. On the time, Mr. Essebsi was the director of nationwide safety and in command of coping with an tried navy coup in opposition to Mr. Bourguiba.

In accordance with the report, Mr. Essebsi oversaw a number of trials of Mr. Bourguiba’s opponents that weren’t honest and performed by judges who weren’t unbiased. The brother of Mr. Essebsi, Slaheddine Caïd Essebsi, was additionally named within the report as being current on the trials as a government-appointed lawyer.

Mr. Essebsi and his brother have but to touch upon the report’s findings.

By regulation, Ms. Bensedrine is remitted to submit the fee’s work to all branches of presidency. The president and the top of Parliament have taken receipt of the report, however Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who described the fee’s work as a “failure” on the finish of its mandate in December, has not but responded to invites to just accept the doc, Ms. Bensedrine mentioned.

Nonetheless, “the report is in good arms,” she informed human rights activists and survivors on the ceremony Tuesday, “and it’s as much as you to verify the method goes on.” The report contains suggestions that the federal government is sure by regulation to implement inside a yr, though commissioners have typically complained of the shortage of political will to help their work. Investigators typically turned to human rights teams for assist as an alternative.

“Civil society was all the time supporting us after we had been focused or we encountered difficulties,” mentioned Oula Ben Nejma, the top of the fee’s investigative staff. “That’s how we managed to complete our work.”

The investigators held 14 public hearings in the course of the course of their work, compiling an official checklist of greater than 10,000 victims. The venture got here beneath a torrent of criticism, together with from Mr. Essebsi, who pushed by means of a regulation to cut back the fee’s scope after coming to energy in 2014.

The report additionally particulars the community of corruption round former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the nation in the course of the rebellion of 2011. Now in exile in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ben Ali has been sentenced in absentia to imprisonment for deaths in the course of the 2011 protests and for corruption and the misuse of a number of state-owned properties.

“Our purpose after we despatched the instances to the courts was to dismantle a system, as a result of it’s the solely technique to finish impunity,” Ms. Bensedrine mentioned in a briefing Tuesday. “It isn’t solely about people, however about a complete system that tortured and mistreated individuals.”

The fee has transferred 174 instances to particular chambers after receiving greater than 60,000 complaints from victims, and 30 trials have began. Among the many accused are a number of former inside ministers and safety chiefs beneath Mr. Ben Ali. The usually-delayed trials haven’t but reached verdicts, however a few of the accused who refused to attend them at first have began to come back ahead.

One of many final instances to be transferred was a kind of wherein Mr. Ben Ali was accused of corruption. Particular judges are going to be educated for this particular case, Ms. Bensedrine mentioned. “Folks typically say that he was not responsible of something, that his household was the one harming the nation, however that’s not true, and people instances may very well be robust factors to power the authorities to ask for his extradition,” she added.

Ms. Bensedrine mentioned that she would journey across the nation to make the report public however added that it might rely upon human rights associations, which have developed a robust voice because the Tunisian revolution and are sometimes seen as a safeguard in opposition to the return of despotism, to take up the work of transitional justice.

Human rights organizations shaped a coalition to defend the transitional justice course of two years in the past, when it got here beneath assault from opponents inside and out of doors the federal government. Activists following the trials, which are sometimes boycotted by the Tunisian information media, publicize the fee’s work.

Moreover the help of civil society, the fee sought the opinion of judges and law enforcement officials for its suggestions about what ought to change sooner or later.

In the course of the trials within the particular chambers, police unions have repeatedly printed information releases discouraging accused officers from showing and saying that they didn’t help the fee and the proceedings.

However Ms. Bensedrine mentioned she had discovered help for accountability. “I used to be bowled over, as a result of many of the police forces we interviewed had been in favor of a change. They mentioned to us: ‘Let the corrupt and the tormentors be judged. We must always not should pay for what they’ve finished,’ ” she mentioned.

“We’re giving the instruments with this report in order that there aren’t any extra excuses to not act or to not begin reforms,” Ms. Bensedrine mentioned. “The integrity of the Tunisian state is at stake. It’s actually essential that these violations don’t repeat themselves.”

The fee beneficial the creation of an unbiased physique to supervise or monitor the work of the Tunisian safety forces. It additionally referred to as on the president to satisfy with survivors to make a public apology to the victims within the title of the Tunisian state, so reconciliation course of might start.

Rached Jaïdane, 56, a former political prisoner who has confronted his torturers in a seamless case within the particular court docket, welcomed the publication of the report. “It fills the final lacking historic components of the testimonies of the violations, and actually stands as an archive,” he mentioned.

“However for me, an important is to have a public apology from the president as chief of state,” he added. “I want that greater than materials compensation, I want him to acknowledge within the title of the federal government what occurred to us by means of these years.”

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