Victims still waiting for justice in Tunisia’s incomplete transition

As today marks the fifth anniversary of the toppling of Ben Ali’s regime, the ICJ calls on Tunisian authorities to adopt key legal and policy reforms to combat impunity and to deliver justice to victims of past human rights violations.

Under Ben Ali’s regime, thousands of human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests and detentions, were committed by law enforcement and other security officers.

Numerous similar violations were also committed during the December 2010 to January 2011 uprising and some of them continue today.

“The political and institutional reforms introduced in Tunisia over the past 5 years should not be the sole yardstick to measure the success of the transition,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Victims of human rights violations, in particular under Ben Ali’s rule, and during the uprising still await justice,” he added.

Despite several cases being brought before Tunisian courts, in particular military courts, these proceedings have yet to establish the truth about violations, ensure that all those who are responsible are held to account, and fulfill the rights of victims to effective remedies and reparation.

“Until their rights to effective remedies and reparation are realized, including by holding the perpetrators to account, the transition will remain incomplete,” Benarbia said.

Indeed, despite numerous legal and policy reforms, including the adoption of the “Transitional Justice Law”, and the establishment of the Truth and Dignity Commission (Instance Vérité et Dignité), the ICJ is concerned that justice for victims remains mostly elusive.

Obstacles that impede victims’ access to justice and effective remedies include current weaknesses in the Tunisian criminal procedures, such as the broad discretion of the public prosecutor to dismiss cases without providing specific reasons (and the lack of ability of victims effectively to challenge such decisions), the lack of effective measures for the protection of victims and witness, inadequate laws on the definition of crimes and superior responsibility, and the use of military courts to address human rights violations.

“Key reforms both in law and practice are needed for Tunisia to properly address past abuses in Tunisia, end pervasive impunity and provide victims with justice,” Benarbia said.


Theo Boutruche, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: +96 170 888 961, e-mail: theo.boutruche(a)

Tunisia-Anniversary-News Press Release-2016-ARA (Arabic version, in PDF)

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