Tunisia: revise Counter-Terrorism Law to conform to international standards

Middle East and North Africa
Document Type: Position Paper
Date: 2015

In a position paper published today, the ICJ called on the Tunisian President to refrain from promulgating the flawed Counter-Terrorism Law that was adopted by the Assembly of the People’s Representatives on 25 July 2015.

The ICJ also urged the Tunisian authorities to amend this Law through a transparent and inclusive process, including with a view to ensuring its full compliance with international human rights and rule of law standards.

The adoption of the Law follows a series of attacks against members of the security forces and the army and two deadly attacks in the Bardo Museum and Sousse.

“Legitimate security concerns by Tunisian authorities should not lead to the adoption and the enforcement of repressive laws and other measures that erode the rule of law and curtail fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the ICJ.

Overly broad and imprecise definitions in many offences created under the Law extend its reach far beyond truly terrorist acts such as hostage-taking, killings or causing serious injuries, and other such violence.

In some aspects, such as offences of glorification and incitement to terrorism, the provisions are so broadly drafted that they have the potential to criminalize the peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression. Some provisions could result in the wrongful prosecution of journalists and whistleblowers.

The ICJ is also deeply concerned at article 68 of the Law, which provides immunity from criminal prosecution for security forces when using force in the course of their duties.

The article could potentially allow law enforcement officers who use force in violation of international standards and the right to life, such as intentional use of lethal force when it is not strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, to escape justice.

Other provisions of the Law raise serious concerns for the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty, and the right to privacy.

In particular, provisions allowing a person to be held in police custody for up to 15 days without access to a lawyer or a judge are inconsistent with the right to liberty, fair trial guarantees, and guarantees for the prevention of torture and other abuses in detention.

“By shielding security forces from accountability and eroding procedural and other fair trial guarantees of terrorism suspects, the Law contradicts Tunisia’s obligations under international law, and its own Constitution,” added Benarbia. “ Tunisian authorities must ensure the Law is revised to fully respect its human rights obligations, including those relating to the right to liberty, to a fair trial, and to effective remedies and reparation in cases of human rights violations.”


Theo Boutruche, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme; t: +96 170 888 961; e: theo.boutruche(a)icj.org


Tunisia-CT position paper-Advocacy-Position Paper-2015-ENG (full text of the position paper in English)

Tunisia-PR CT position paper-News-Press release-2015-ARA (full text of the press release in Arabic)

Tunisia-CT position paper-Advocacy-Position paper-2015-ARA- (full text of the position paper in Arabic)

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